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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Attorney General Donovan And Stakeholders Join Forces in Defense of 3SquaresVT

September 11, 2019

Contact: Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan, joined by several stakeholders, today announced that his office will be submitting comments in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut food assistance for Vermonters. Hunger Free Vermont, the Vermont Foodbank, and the Advisory Council on Child Poverty and Strengthening Families joined Attorney General Donovan in urging Vermonters to support 3SquaresVT by submitting public comments before the September 23rd deadline. September is Hunger Action Month.

“Every day, Vermonters are being forced to make tough choices to keep food on the table,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Public benefit programs like 3SquaresVT provide Vermonters with a hand up – not a handout – while they work toward sustainable economic security for themselves and their families.”

If the Trump Administration’s proposed change to “broad-based categorical eligibility” is enacted, thousands of Vermont families who rely on 3SquaresVT, Vermont’s supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP), will be impacted. Estimates from the Vermont Agency of Human Services suggest approximately 13,366 Vermonters, or 5,204 households, are expected to lose benefits under the proposed change – resulting in an approximate $7.5 million loss in annual benefits for Vermonters. In addition, children in affected households may lose access to free meals at school.

“Eliminating a fundamental part of SNAP, which has been used by 42 states for over 20 years, will harm Vermonters and do nothing to solve hunger in our state or in our country,” said Hunger Free Vermont Executive Director, Anore Horton. “We are asking every Vermonter to write a public comment today opposing this cruel proposed rule.”

For many years, 3SquaresVT has kept Vermonters from going hungry. 3SquaresVT provided, on average, over 70,000 Vermonters with money to spend on food in grocery stores and farmers markets each month.

“Without the support of SNAP – our country’s first line of defense against hunger – more people will need to rely on the charitable food system for help,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “And yet, food banks and food shelves will not be able to make up the difference. For each meal provided by Feeding America food banks across the country (like the Vermont Foodbank), SNAP provides 9 meals. Private charity simply cannot compensate for the impact of these significant cuts to the program.”

Vermonters likely to be affected by the proposal are working families with children who rely on the program for food assistance and free meals at school. Research shows that food insecure children have higher rates of poor health, higher rates of hospitalization, and delays in cognitive development, among other learning issues.

“It is astonishing that the Trump Administration would make such a proposal, especially after Congress considered and rejected it when revising the Farm Bill recently,” said Senator Debbie Ingram, Chair of the Advisory Council on Child Poverty and Strengthening Families. “Any reasonable and compassionate person should be able to see how devastating it will be to single moms, children, and seniors who are already struggling to lose access to the basic necessity of food.”

Individuals, organizations, committees, coalitions, and agencies wishing to submit public comments must do so by September 23rd. More information, including a link to the public comment portal, may be found on Hunger Free Vermont’s website.

Last modified: September 11, 2019