One of the largest food pantries in the Chicago area is bracing to serve more people if the Trump Administration’s proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) becomes a reality.
The Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry, which served 24,000 people in 2018, said it is prepared to rise and meet the demand if stricter work requirements prevent more people from obtaining SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps.
“For us, we’re able to take everybody in and feed everybody,” said Executive Director Cat Battista.
The Aurora food pantry is even making plans to grow vegetables in a plot of land on its property.
Still, Battista said smaller food pantries may not be equipped to handle an influx of new clients.
The Department of Agriculture proposed three changes to SNAP. According to an NBC report, the new rules create stricter work requirements for eligibility, cap deductions for utility allowance and “reform” the way 40 states automatically enroll families into SNAP when they receive other forms of federal aid.
But that’s sending the wrong message, Battista said.
“If you want to empower people to find work and to find employment, fill them up, fuel them up, give them the resources they need, which includes a meal,” Battista said.
A study by the Urban Institute found that 3.7 million fewer people across the country would receive SNAP in an average month, according to the NBC report.
The USDA said the changes would save taxpayer dollars. According to a press release, the USDA said there is no better time to obtain employment due to a robust job market. The USDA also said it has partnered with states to remove barriers and support job seekers.