Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. Credit: CD Davidson-Hiers/Florida Phoenix
Nikki Fried, the only Democrat on Florida’s elected Cabinet, is denouncing the U.S. Agriculture Department’s attempt to cut off food stamp eligibility for more than 3 million Americans.
Fried, who leads the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, has been traveling the state to call attention to hunger and food insecurity.
“While 2.8 million Floridians struggle with food insecurity, including 850,000 children, reducing federal nutrition assistance is a step in the wrong direction,” she said in a written statement Tuesday.
“Helping families rise out of poverty through nutrition has long received bipartisan support. While our department works to ensure kids can access healthy meals year-round, cutting food stamp eligibility will hurt 3 million working families seeking a hand up – not a handout.”
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said his agency would prevent states from automatically enrolling welfare recipients in its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, program, which provides food stamps to the needy. Purdue said he wants the rule change to prevent “abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”
Republicans in the U.S. House tried to impose similar restrictions last year but the Senate refused to go along.
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