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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

TN families hit 'income cliff' when trying to get SNAP benefits

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Thursday, November 30, 2023   

With the next Farm Bill stalled in Congress and rising food insecurity in Tennessee, advocacy groups say there's a pressing need to address a hurdle faced by lower-income working families.

About 750,000 Tennesseans receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. More would be eligible, if the state would implement a policy known as Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility.

Signe Anderson, senior director of nutrition advocacy at the Tennessee Justice Center, said it would allow the state to automatically qualify households for food assistance if they already receive other types of help - like childcare or housing assistance.

"The way that Broad Based Categorical Eligibility works is, you know, a mom could take the raise and not lose all of her benefits," said Anderson. "Instead, the benefits get tapered down instead of maybe getting a $50 a month raise, which throws you above the poverty line."

Tennessee is one of only eight states that doesn't use this method to help qualify lower-income households for food assistance.

According to the latest census data, more than 13% of Tennesseeans live in poverty. Anderson said other states that have implemented the broad-based policy have not experienced significant changes, either in SNAP caseload or costs to the state.

"For Tennesseans, it would help families that fall between 131% and 150% of the poverty line," she added. "In Tennessee, I think, based on some data from 2019, that could help anywhere from 7,000 to over 10,000 families."

Anderson said it's important to collaborate with Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Human Services Commissioner Clarence Carter to address food insecurity and expand outreach.

A webinar today at 11 a.m. explores SNAP's impact and related issues in Tennessee. It is co-sponsored by the Tennessee Justice Center, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Martha O'Bryan Center.



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