Cancel Change On Food Stamps

Imagine an issue on which all four U.S. senators from West Virginia and Ohio — two Democrats and two Republicans — are in complete, cordial agreement.

You can stop scratching your head. There is such a coalition, and it includes 43 other senators of both parties. Sens. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are on the list.

In a reasonable federal government, that level of bipartisan agreement ought to seal whatever deal the lawmakers are seeking.

It is an important one to hundreds of thousands of West Virginians and Ohioans, not to mention millions of other Americans. It may come down to whether they can get enough to eat.

That is no exaggeration. At issue are changes President Barack Obama’s administration wants to make in the SNAP program, often referred to as “food stamps.” It gives low-income people and families financial assistance to purchase food.

Department of Agriculture officials plan to require that stores eligible to acccept SNAP credits stock specified types and quantities of certain foods. The idea is to ensure low-income people who rely on SNAP can obtain healthy, nutritious foods.

But as the senators point out, many small grocery and convenience stores either cannot comply with the new rules or would have to increase prices to cover their added costs. Some would stop accepting SNAP customers. Others would charge more.

Either way, the very people the change is supposed to benefit would suffer. SNAP credits would not buy as much food for some. Others would find it difficult or impossible to get to stores accepting SNAP.

The bottom line, as the senators note in their letter: The rule “would reduce access to healthy food for SNAP participants.”