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Del. Roem Clarifies SNAP Restaurant Bill is Intended to Serve Homeless Population

| February 19, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Del. Danica Roem (Photo by Mike Beaty)

Since media outlets published the news this week that the Virginia House of Delegates has approved some SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] recipients using their “food stamp” credits at certain restaurants, there has been public outcry.

(HB 1410 cleared the House, but still needs to win the approval of the Virginia Senate.)

READ ABOUT THE SNAP BILL via Capital News Service.

The controversy is over whether food stamps should subsidize eating at restaurants when many people consider that to be a luxury experience. Many working class families must sacrifice eating at restaurants to manage their household budgets. Why, then, readers ask: should their tax dollars pay for those on state food assistance programs to dine out?

Del. Danica Rome (D-13th), representative of parts of Gainesville, Manassas and Manassas Park, posted clarification on her Facebook page, saying that certain excerpts and headlines do not properly explain the bill.

She explains that the bill is primarily intended to help homeless people purchase hot meals, since most do not have access to kitchens in which to cook their food.

(A closer reading of the article, may also illuminate some key points in included in headlines.)

The following is her social media message that was posted on Facebook Feb. 16 at 11:24 p.m. on the page @danicafordelegate.

Just for clarity because the excerpt and headline don’t make it clear: This is an existing federal program exclusively available for no- or low-income disabled, elderly and homeless SNAP recipients. States as ideologically diverse as Arizona and Rhode Island already participate in it, it requires $0 of additional benefits and is entirely opt-in for restaurants. You’re not going to see someone with SNAP benefits running up a tab at a steakhouse under this bill. What you will see is someone at Sheetz or Wawa who can currently only get a cold sandwich or something in a package be able to get a hot sub if Sheetz and Wawa were to participate.

This reason I introduced this bill is because when I worked for the Gainesville Times/Prince William Times, I wrote a number of stories about people experiencing homelessness, from Woodbridge to Manassas to Haymarket. When you’re visiting make-shift camps and talking to people one-on-one in the woods, it becomes fairly obvious that a person experiencing homelessness doesn’t have a stove or refrigerator, which means they’re more likely to buy packaged or cold food with SNAP benefits.

So I designed this bill with those people in mind. When I tried to tailor it just toward people experiencing homelessness, I learned that’s not how the federal program is designed: each state that opts in also has to include elderly and disabled SNAP recipients too, which I had no problem doing.

Everyone should be able to eat a hot meal.

Even prisoners have hot meals. The least we can do is make sure everyone can eat.
And if someone wants to vote against me for trying to make hot meals available to low-income people who are disabled, elderly and homeless, they’re certainly welcome to do that. I’m willing to take the hit to make sure my low-income elderly, disabled and homeless constituents can get a hot meal.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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