Project Bread Disappointed in Debt Ceiling Agreement that Harms Low-Income Residents

Project Bread

Policy Work

Project Bread Disappointed in Debt Ceiling Agreement that Harms Low-Income Residents

Project Bread is deeply disappointed that the debt ceiling agreement reached by President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy expands punitive and ineffective work requirements for SNAP recipients while hamstringing states’ abilities to best address food insecurity among their low-income residents.

SNAP, the nation’s most effective anti-hunger tool, has been a lifeline for families, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Bolstering nutrition assistance programs, such as SNAP and school meals, and economic support programs, such as the Child Tax Credit, during the pandemic proved what advocates and families already knew – giving people access to grocery dollars and money to support their basic needs works.

The U.S. government defaulting was never an acceptable option, but we wholeheartedly reject the idea that low-income families needed to be harmed as part of the negotiation process. Those who rely on programs to meet their basic needs should be supported and not sold out as bargaining chips.

A woman and man grocery shopping, pushing a cart with a child.
A woman and man grocery shopping, pushing a cart with a child.
Erin Mcaleer stands on a platform, speaks to a crowd at opening day of Mattapan Food & Fitness Coalition farmers market

“Our leaders need to stop focusing on creating more red tape for low-income individuals to prove that they are indeed hungry and start focusing on giving them access to resources that will put them and their families on a path to success.”

Project Bread President and CEO Erin McAleer. 

“We have the blueprint to solving hunger - which includes benefit adequacy and access - so let’s work together toward a food secure Commonwealth and nation and stop making applying for government assistance programs so difficult that it becomes a full-time job."

Three generations of Latina women cooking in the kitchen together
Grandmother, mother and daughter unpacking groceries in the kitchen

The debt ceiling agreement subjects more older adults, individuals that face additional barriers to adequate employment, to the punitive 3-month time limit on receiving SNAP benefits and restricts the ability of states to best serve the individual needs of their SNAP clients.

While the proposal provides work requirement exemptions for veterans, unhoused people, and youth exiting foster care, we believe that SNAP is most effective when it serves all those who are struggling with food insecurity and does not trade ease of benefit access among groups. Creating more hoops for individuals to jump through to prove their deservedness of something that is a basic right – food – is an insult to those who are working hard just to make ends meet.

Through our FoodSource Hotline and SNAP awareness work, Project Bread works every day to connect residents to SNAP and address barriers that residents experience, such as stigma and red tape. We fear that the anti-SNAP rhetoric around the debt ceiling debate and the additional layers of bureaucracy that this agreement will burden families with will result in increased hunger as well as put more strain on frontline anti-hunger organizations that are working hard to connect people to critical anti-hunger resources.

“No one wants to hire me and now I have to worry about how I’m going to feed myself. What am I supposed to do?” FoodSource Hotline caller from Lynn, MA.

A hungry child can’t learn – and a hungry adult can’t hold down a job.

We urge our Massachusetts congressional delegation to vocalize the harmful impacts of the SNAP cuts in the debt ceiling agreement on residents across the Commonwealth.

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