Press Release

Senators Welch, Gillibrand Introduce Bill to Expand Access to SNAP, Repeal GOP’s Punitive Eligibility Rules

Jul 20, 2023

WASHINGTON—Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) today introduced the Improving Access to Nutrition Act, legislation that would help more Americans access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as 3SquaresVT in Vermont.

Reps. Barbara Lee (CA-12) and Alma Adams (NC-12) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives.

“So many Vermonters have to choose between paying for groceries and paying their utility bill or putting gas in the car. It’s an impossible choice, and it’s unacceptable that folks across this country have to make that call every day,” said Sen. Welch. “This bill will make it easier for people to get critical nutrition support and put food on the table when times are tough. It’s an essential step, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to make SNAP more accessible for folks who need it.”

“Restoring access to SNAP for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) from ages 50-54 is critical,” said Sen. Gillibrand. “Time and again it has been shown that increasing work requirements does not improve economic security, but in fact takes away food from our most vulnerable populations. Congress should be fighting to empower our citizens to achieve economic self-sufficiency instead of forcing people to go hungry.”

“In the wealthiest country on Earth, no one should go hungry. But more than 34 million people—including 9 million children—are facing food insecurity in the United States,” said Rep. Lee. “The Improving Access to Nutrition Act would significantly reduce that number by eliminating punitive, arbitrary time limits on access to SNAP. I am thankful to my colleagues Senators Welch and Gillibrand for leading this effort on the Senate side, and Rep. Alma Adams for co-leading the House version of this bill, and urge members to support this bill and keep Americans from going hungry.”

“SNAP is one of the most important anti-poverty programs we have, because no person and no family should ever go hungry. In fact, over 40 million Americans depend on SNAP for their meals,” said Rep. Adams, a senior member of the House Committee on Agriculture. “The Improving Access to Nutrition Act will strengthen the SNAP program for millions of people, and make sure that food assistance is available for the vulnerable. I’m grateful for the leadership of Senators Welch and Gillibrand, as well as Congresswoman Lee, and hopeful we will pass this bill and repeal punitive rules that make Americans go hungry.”

“Access to food shouldn’t have a time limit,” said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). “Yet time limits for SNAP take food off the tables of individuals who are already struggling. This is simply cruel and ineffective, and only deepens America’s hunger crisis. Studies show that SNAP time limits do not lead to a meaningful increase in employment, but do substantially reduce SNAP participation, which is counterproductive, especially considering SNAP’s effectiveness in improving economic stability, food security, health, and well-being. We implore Congress to pass the Improving Access to Nutrition Act to permanently end SNAP time limits. Hungry people can’t wait.”

The Improving Access to Nutrition Act would lift the time-limit requirement that SNAP-enrolled, able-bodied adults between the ages of 18-49 only receive SNAP benefits for three months over a 36-month period if they do not report 20 hours of work per week. The bill would also repeal additional eligibility criteria imposed by House Republicans during the 2023 debt ceiling deal, which would impose the three-month rule on adults up to age 54 over the next few years. In doing so, the Improving Access to Nutrition Act will expand nutrition support to millions of Americans who would otherwise go hungry.

The Improving Access to Nutrition Act is supported by:  Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), MAZON | A Jewish Response to Hunger, Feeding America, California Association of Food Banks, Alameda County Community Food Bank, GRACE/End Child Poverty California.

Original cosponsors include Senators Alex Padilla, Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, John Fetterman, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Bernie Sanders. 

The full bill text can be found here.