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Farm Bill Passage Protects Food Assistance for Older Americans

Congress rejects provisions to add work requirements for adults in their 50s to qualify for SNAP

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Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

Critical federal nutrition assistance will be preserved for older Americans as part of the farm bill President Trump signed on Thursday.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 excludes earlier provisions that demanded expanded work requirements as a prerequisite for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) for millions of Americans, including those ages 50 to 59. SNAP is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program, a safety net that protects 42 million Americans, including 8.7 million households with someone age 50 or older. The new bill retains current SNAP work requirements that apply only to childless adults ages 18 to 49 who don’t have disabilities.

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“The Agriculture Improvement Act would protect SNAP and increase employment and training opportunities for individuals on SNAP,” says Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer. “For many older adults, food security can mean better management of chronic diseases and is associated with reduced hospital and nursing home admissions, as well as reduced health care costs.”

The bill also extends the certification period for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, making it easier for seniors to continue receiving food assistance through the program, and invests in rural broadband, offering older Americans access to telehealth and distance learning services and contributing to their ability to age in their communities, according to a statement issued by AARP.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Dec. 13 and updated on Dec. 20.

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