New AACF report: Arkansas hunger safety net needs repair

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – More than 150,000 Arkansans are estimated to be newly food insecure since the pandemic began. State policies are making it harder for families to get the nutritional support they need during this time of crisis.

Food insecurity in Arkansas calls for the state to eliminate policies that make it more difficult to be hungry here than in most other states. For example, Arkansas is one of only 10 states with an “asset limit” that prevents families with even modest savings accounts from becoming eligible for SNAP the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Regardless of household size, Arkansas’s families are automatically ineligible if they have more than $2,250 in the bank ($ 3,500 if the household includes someone with a disability of someone 60 or older). Most states have no such assets limit, and many others have raised the limit so families can save more for emergencies.

While Arkansas lifted many of the barriers to SNAP enrollment when the pandemic started, the asset limit remains in place because it would take legislation to change it.

“As a relatively poor state, we shouldn’t be adding to the burden of food insecurity for Arkansans in the middle of a pandemic,” said Laura Kellams, AACF’s Northwest Arkansas Director and the author of the report. “These state policies are unnecessary and put us at a disadvantage, now and during the economic recovery to come.”

The report calls for Arkansans to reverse a 2017 law that kept the state from participating in “Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility” options. Arkansas law requires that the SNAP assets limit be kept at the lowest level under federal law.

Click here to download a copy of the report on the AACF website.

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