Farm Bill set for a vote; SNAP benefits already underestimate nutritious diet costs
May 17, 2018
As the U.S. House prepares for Friday’s vote on the 2018 Farm Bill, a Virginia Tech expert is warning of more cuts to SNAP benefits and new employment requirements. Professor George Davis is concerned low-income families will find it even more difficult to obtain vital nutritional assistance.
“SNAP benefits are already based on a model that underestimates the cost of a nutritious diet by up to $100 per week because it ignores the cost of labor,” said Davis. “And labor costs often make up at least 30 percent of the total cost of many finished products, including food produced at home.”
“The more time you spend working doesn’t change the cost of a nutritious diet,” said Davis, who specializes in food and health economics and has examined the federal program’s benefits for over a decade.
“In the context of the SNAP goals, requiring more work hours without compensating for lost food prep time discourages work,” he said. “Low-income households should be given an incentive to go to work. One incentive would be to help cover the labor costs of at home food preparation.”
Davis is a professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. His research into the SNAP program examines the true costs associated with consuming a nutritious diet. Along with other colleagues, he has provided analysis for the Food Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and have received national recognition among food and health economists for their research.
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