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Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2023 is introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

United States Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Peter Welch (D-VT) recently introduced the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2023. The bill would expand and strengthen Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for over 40 million Americans by amending the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 to require that SNAP benefits be calculated using the value of the low-cost food plan. 

“We live in the richest nation in the world, and more than 40 million Americans still depend on food assistance. I am proud to lead my Democratic colleagues in introducing the Closing the Meal Gap Act, a bill that enhances SNAP benefits and puts food on the table for those who need it most,” said Senator Gillibrand.  “Despite this, Republicans in Congress are willing to slash federal spending for this life-saving program and play politics with people’s lives. No one in the United States should go hungry, and I will never turn my back on the more than 40 million Americans, including 15 million children, who depend on SNAP.”

In 2023, SNAP is currently helping over 42 million people in the United States afford a nutritionally adequate diet each month. SNAP provides important nutritional support for low-paid working families, low-income older adults and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes, and other households with low incomes. Participants can purchase food from more than 250,000 retailers. This program brings resources into grocery stores, benefiting store employees, truck drivers delivering food, and the farmers and producers who produce the food. 

Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2023 would: 

  • Increase the baseline for SNAP benefits by incorporating the Low-Cost Food Plan into the SNAP formula, which would more accurately estimate how much working people spend on food.
  • Eliminate eligibility limits & unrealistic barriers by:
    • Authorizing the standard medical deduction in every state permanently for seniors and disabled individuals applying for SNAP benefits at a minimum of $140. Individuals with high expenses could continue to apply for a higher, itemized medical deduction.
    • Eliminating the cap on the Excess Shelter Deduction in the SNAP formula to account for the cost of living for SNAP recipients in areas with high rent and utilities.
    • Eliminating time limits on benefits for Americans struggling to find work.
  • Expand benefits for and end discrimination against those who live and work in Puerto Rico by offering SNAP benefits as offered in the continental U.S.

“More than 70,000 Vermont families rely on SNAP benefits to put food on the table – but even with that support, far too many people are still struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Welch. “The Closing the Meal Gap Act will cut through red tape that stops families from getting the help they need. I am proud to join Sen. Gillibrand, Rep. Adams, and others to support this important legislation and help Vermonters thrive.”

Read the bill here