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House Subcommittee Continues to Examine Nutrition Assistance Programs

On October 27, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition held a hearing, “Past, Present, and Future of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program): Breaking the Cycle.” This is the eighth in a series of hearings on nutrition assistance programs, in general, and SNAP, in particular (see The Source, 7/17/15). The October 27 hearing focused on how to break the cycle of poverty.

Ron Haskins, senior fellow, Brookings Institution, stated, “The most important outcome of welfare reform was increased work rates by single mothers. Not only did the work rate of single mothers increase in the years after welfare reform, they have stayed higher than they were in the early 1990s and previously, despite two recessions and the increased unemployment that comes with recessions. Given the importance of benefits from the work support system in fighting poverty, work becomes even more important because welfare recipients have to work to get benefits from the work support system. So work opens up two sources of income – earnings from the employment and benefits, especially tax credits, that can only be obtained if mothers work.” Mr. Haskins continued, “An outcome of welfare reform that should be emphasized is that most mothers who found employment worked in low-wage, mostly unskilled jobs. Thus, their earnings were generally quite low. Few states had effective programs that attempted to upgrade the skills of mothers. Even low-wage jobs provided a step toward self-sufficiency, but many analysts think that with training, these mothers could attain the skills that would lead to better jobs, higher earnings, and even lower poverty rates.”

The following witnesses also testified:

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