October 2018 Policy Update

Trump Administration Proposal Would Hurt Health and Wellbeing of Millions of Immigrants

Under current, long-standing policy, the federal government uses a test to determine if someone can enter the country or obtain legal permanent resident status. The test, called a “public charge” test, considers whether the person would depend primarily on government support. If the person would indeed rely on government support, they can be classified as “public charge” and be denied permanent residence. Under current law, only a narrow range of public assistance programs can be applied to this public charge determination, primarily cash benefits.

On October 10, the Trump administration proposed to upend policy dating back over 100 years and expand the programs considered for public charge determination to include health insurance (Medicaid), nutrition assistance (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), housing assistance, and others. If finalized as currently written, this proposal would put many families in the impossible position of deciding between permanent legal status or accessing vital, basic needs such as food and healthcare.

This proposal could lead families to forgo needed benefits, even those benefits that are not specifically included in the updated regulation, out of fear that it would impact their status. It’s happened before: in the late 1990s, changes to public benefits and immigration rules resulted in many families forgoing their right to Medicaid and SNAP.  

At FoodCorps, one of our core values is that everyone should be welcome at the table. This proposal is directly antithetical to our values, and it would harm many of the kids in our partner schools across the country. We have joined a coalition of over 1500 organizations in opposition to this proposed rule and are working with these groups to advocate against it.

What happens next?

This is still a proposed rule, meaning the Trump administration must solicit comments from the public and then analyze those comments before issuing a final rule. In the coming weeks, we will share model comments that you can submit to express your opposition to this proposal.

To learn more, visit ProtectingImmigrantFamilies.org.

Farm bill Deadline Passed, Next Steps Uncertain

The deadline to extend or pass a new farm bill, October 1, has come and gone. While some vital programs covered in the farm bill (such as SNAP) will continue operating, others are in limbo, including a range of programs that support local/regional food systems. FoodCorps strongly opposed the House farm bill because it included significant cuts to nutrition assistance, leaving many families without food, while also threatening programs that promote local and regional food systems and conservation.

Leaders in both the House and Senate are continuing to meet to resolve differences, but all indications suggest they remain far apart on many issues. FoodCorps will continue to advocate with our partners to push for a strong farm bill that does not include harmful cuts to SNAP and continues important investments in local/regional food systems, conservation, and beginning farmers. To stay up to date on the farm bill, sign up for our action alerts and learn more about the farm bill

AmeriCorps Funding Win!

Good news! Congress recently passed and the President signed a FY19 spending bill that increases funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that operates AmeriCorps and Senior Corps, including a $13m increase specifically for AmeriCorps. As you’ll recall from the beginning of this year, the President’s budget proposal again called for eliminating AmeriCorps entirely. FoodCorps advocated for these funding increases in partnership with Voices for National Service, culminating in this big victory!

Nutrition Education Funding Remains in Limbo

While the FY19 spending bill has some wins, it did not include funding for agriculture. Congress only passed a temporary extension for ag spending, and the final status on the funding level for the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program (FASLP) (the initiative that funds hands-on food and nutrition learning) is still undecided. Congress will need to act on ag funding by early December, when the extension expires.  

Thanks to our advocacy, the FASLP received its first appropriation of $1 million for FY18, and the Senate included this level of funding for FY19. FoodCorps is continuing to advocate for the final ag spending bill to include $1 million for the FASLP for FY19.