Chair Hayes, Ranking Member Bacon, and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee this afternoon.
My name is Dr. Lauren Lowenstein Bauer, and I am a Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution where I am affiliated with The Hamilton Project. I conduct research on issues of economic and public concern, including human capital development and safety net programs. One of my areas of expertise is federal nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).
In my testimony today I will describe the state of food insecurity in the United States, assess how federal nutrition assistance programs have supported families and the economy over the past year, and apply evidence toward making recommendations on the future of SNAP.
Food insecurity, especially when experienced by children, has been an acute and persistent problem in the United States over the past year. Congress took vitally important action centered on enhancing SNAP and providing resources to purchase food to families with children, which prevented even greater hardship. Although SNAP is already a highly effective program, there are modest but important steps that Congress can take to improve the program. These reforms include (i) automatically increasing benefits levels and ensuring that the program expands during a recession, (ii) adopting a timely and efficient process for waiving or ending SNAP work requirements, and (iii) adjusting the SNAP benefit formula to increase benefit adequacy and support work.
Read the full testimony here.