Block granting SNAP would eliminate a basic living standard all Americans expect—the ability to put food on the table for their families. First and foremost, SNAP would no longer be responsive to economic downturns like the Great Recession. The cutbacks in hours and widespread layoffs of the recession caused more people to turn to SNAP, and because SNAP is a guaranteed program, the federal government automatically funded the increase. But block grants would leave states to fend for themselves during periods of increased need. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, if Congress had block granted SNAP before the Great Recession, its funding would have been cut in half by 2013—likely jeopardizing nutrition assistance for millions.
And, unlike Medicaid, cuts to SNAP would kick in as soon as the block grant takes effect. In a recent budget, House Republicans proposed cutting SNAP by $125 billion in the first 5 years of the block grant. This would cost approximately 10 million people nutrition assistance in just 5 years.