Statement attributable to Beverley Wheeler, Director, D.C. Hunger Solutions
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2021 — D.C. Hunger Solutions commends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for dismissing an appeal of a decision striking down the Trump administration’s attempt to revoke Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that would have taken food off the tables of 700,000 Americans, including at least 13,000 District of Columbia residents.
The D.C. Circuit’s dismissal sends a clear message that stripping nutrition assistance from thousands of struggling District residents is nonnegotiable. SNAP plays a critical role in reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty, and improving family security, child and adult health, employment, and other outcomes.
We applaud Attorney General Karl Racine for his efforts to protect access to SNAP benefits. In January 2020, AG Racine and New York Attorney General Letitia James co-led a multistate coalition in suing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to challenge a new rule that would have severely limited states’ flexibility to provide food assistance to individuals struggling to find work. The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), founder of D.C. Hunger Solutions, was one of several high-profile organizations that filed briefs and declarations supporting the coalition’s arguments.
In a filing on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the court to dismiss its appeal. The Court dismissed the appeal on Tuesday, leaving Chief Judge Howell’s decision as the final ruling on the matter and effectively preventing implementation of the rule.
The litigation alleges that the Trump administration’s harmful rule would undermine Congressional intent, violate the federal rulemaking process, would have imposed significant regulatory burdens on states, harm states’ residents and economies, and result in more food insecurity for those who already are experiencing poverty.
Nearly 15 percent of households in D.C. report struggling to buy enough food for themselves and their families. Many of these residents rely on federal nutrition programs like SNAP to purchase nutritious foods at local grocery stores and farmers’ markets.
D.C. Hunger Solutions has highlighted grocery store disparities among residents living in low-income neighborhoods, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. The lack of access to full-service grocery stores in Wards 7 and 8 hasn’t changed much since the organization first issued its grocery cap report a decade ago. Adequate grocery store access will grant SNAP participants the option to purchase nutritious meals for their household.
As the District looks at ways to improve the health and economic outcomes that have been exacerbated during the pandemic, D.C. leaders can utilize these strategies to help bring equitable full-service grocery store access across all eight wards moving forward.
About D.C. Hunger Solutions:
D.C. Hunger Solutions, founded in 2002 as an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), works to create a hunger-free community and improve the nutrition, health, economic security, and well-being of low-income people in the District of Columbia. To learn more about D.C. Hunger Solutions, visit www.dchunger.org