Welch introduces bicameral legislation to streamline SNAP recertification process

Bill would reduce administrative burden for applicants and state agencies

Vermont Business Magazine This week, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and U.S. Representative Nanette Barragán (D-CA-44) introduced the bicameral SNAP Recertification Reform Act, legislation that would give states and qualifying Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applicants the flexibility to waive the recertification interview, and would direct state agencies to provide the option for a phone or virtual interview to applicants should the agency require an interview for renewal of benefits. 

“Hunger is an urgent concern in Vermont, and thousands of Vermonters rely on programs like SNAP to help put food on the table. That’s why we need to do everything we can to make accessing SNAP faster and easier, including streamlining processes that determine applicants’ program eligibility. This bill will expedite access to SNAP benefits and help avoid lapses in benefits for folks already struggling to make ends meet,” said Senator Welch. 

“For Americans on SNAP, the few dollars a day they receive in assistance can determine if they get to eat that day.” said Rep. Barragán. “Hungry Americans should not fear their SNAP benefits will be cut off. This fear is common for people who rely on this assistance like college students and working-class Americans. Going to class or work should not be a barrier for Americans to renew their SNAP support and put food on the table.”  

In-person renewal interviews for SNAP applicants are often duplicative and pose obstacles to accessing the benefits. Agency caseworker backlogs can also lead to applicants receiving written notice of their interview after the agency-assigned interview date. 

Of the 33 million total SNAP applications nationally in Fiscal Year 2023, over 12 million were renewals. By requiring both agency and applicant consent to waive a recertification interview, applicants still have the opportunity to speak with a caseworker to get questions answered or update their application paperwork if needed. 

“The SNAP recertification interview requirement stands in between hardworking, hungry students and their next meal. Removing the red tape will make it easier for students to earn a degree without worrying about their basic needs. We're thankful for the work of Sen. Welch and Rep. Barragán that could benefit millions of Americans,” said Student Defense.  

“Hunger Free Vermont applauds Senator Welch and Representative Barragán for taking action to eliminate steps in the recertification process for SNAP benefits that place an unnecessary burden on both program participants and state governments, and that all too often lead to people and families losing access to essential food benefits for which they are eligible,” said Anore Horton, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont. “We all contribute to funding SNAP, our most effective and expansive food security program, and we all deserve a simple and easy application and recertification process when we need it.” 

The SNAP Recertification Reform Act is endorsed by Hunger Free Vermont; Vermont Food Bank; the California Association of Food Banks; Center for Law & Social Policy (CLASP); Los Angeles Regional Food Bank; National Student Legal Defense Network (StudentDefense). 

Read the full text of the bill. 

To support great journalism, access our archives and get unique features like our award-winning profiles, Book of Lists & Business-to-Business Directory, subscribe HERE!