Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), Chairman of the Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research Subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee sent a follow-up letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding access to the key federal nutrition program. This follows a similar, initial request last June, seeking clarity on upcoming changes made to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) that will affect eligibility and how these changes will be communicated. This letter was co-signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“We remain concerned about the FRA’s potential impacts on SNAP enrollment in our states. The changes to SNAP made necessary by its passage could spread confusion about eligibility for populations newly affected by work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD),” the senators wrote.

The FRA, which raised the country’s borrowing limit, expands work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (often referred to as “ABAWDs”) aged 18 to 55, increasing the previous cutoff age of 49. It also expanded eligibility to new populations: veterans, homeless individuals, and individuals aged out of foster care. These changes could create confusion about eligibility for newly affected populations. This letter is sent in response to USDA issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking to implement these and other FRA requirements.

The initial letter sent by Senator Fetterman and his colleagues requested detailed information on several fronts. They sought to understand the net change in SNAP enrollment following the implementation of these eligibility changes. Additionally, they inquired about when the USDA would release state-level assessments of these changes. There was also a need for a demographic breakdown of the national SNAP enrollment changes to better understand how different groups are affected. Lastly, the senators requested details on USDA’s communication plan to ensure that all affected populations are properly informed about the changes.

The follow-up letter now seeks updates on these initial inquiries. Specifically, the senators are asking for any new findings on SNAP spending or enrollment since USDA’s last response in August 2023. They also request updates on how the USDA has implemented communication strategies to inform impacted populations about the eligibility changes. Furthermore, the senators are interested in the types of questions the USDA has received from State SNAP Agencies regarding the implementation of these changes, as well as questions from national organizations that represent newly affected populations.