Fiscal scrimping will save virtual pennies relative to the total federal budget while forcing tens of thousands of Montanans to choose between things like heat, pharmaceuticals and food this winter.

Proposed changes to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will cut off food stamps to many. Right now, the program puts income limits on those who receive the assistance – essentially 130% of the federal poverty line. That’s about $33,000 annually for a family of four. The changes are expected to cut some $13 million from the Montana program and impact food assistance for 22,000 Montana households that include 37,000 children.

Right now administrators have the flexibility to continue aid to those who temporarily exceed the limits or whose income is cut into by high utility bills or other expenses. Under the Trump administration changes, that flexibility would be eliminated and recipients will be cut off immediately if they work a few extra hours and exceed the income limit – even if only temporarily.

Human beings aren’t cookie-cutter clones who all fit one description. Individual circumstances put different people into different situations. Those who administer the SNAP program need the flexibility to deal with unusual and temporary conditions families often face.

Families struggling with basic necessities need hope – that they will one day be able to rise out of their situation and thrive on their own. But those families can’t achieve success in their jobs and education if they are distracted with worries about basic needs like food, shelter and transportation.

SNAP gives those families a leg up by addressing some of the food insecurity they face. This small part of the federal budget has the potential to return so much more than what we invest in the form of successful and thriving families standing on their own.

This latest effort to cut SNAP is one of a series proposed by the Trump administration. You have until Monday to submit comments on it and you can do so by visiting the Montana Food Bank Network website at

Speak out for those who have less this holiday season and voice your objections to this harsh and needless rule change. We urge our congressional delegation to do the same.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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