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Testimony: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Toward Better Employment and Health Outcomes

House Committee on Agriculture

June 13, 2023

Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Scott, and members of the Agriculture Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important issue. My name is Angela Rachidi and I am a Senior Fellow on poverty and opportunity at the American Enterprise Institute, where I have spent the past several years researching policies aimed at reducing poverty and increasing employment for low-income families. Before I joined AEI, I was a Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Department of Social Services, where for more than a decade I oversaw the agency’s policy research, including evaluating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

As this committee considers a Farm Bill for 2023, I wanted to highlight two key issues as it relates to SNAP: employment and health. I have spent much of my career researching the federal government’s safety net programs and identifying policies aimed at helping low-income families achieve the type of opportunity and social mobility that every American deserves. In the course of my research, three key themes have emerged. First, consistent and sustained employment is one of the most crucial ingredients for reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility, along with family structure. Second, poor health is one of the largest barriers to employment for low-income Americans. Third, SNAP’s lack of dietary guidelines often leaves its recipients in poor health, preventing them from working and escaping poverty.