The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a memorandum to state agencies (PDF, 156 KB) encouraging them to require Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to cooperate with child support programs.
“We want states to take action to ensure that SNAP and child support work together to help children,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Increasing the number of states that implement child support cooperation requirements will benefit families, help non-custodial parents assume responsibility for the well-being and stability of their children, and provide more children with the support they deserve. We stand ready to provide technical assistance to any state interested in implementing this policy.”
Child support programs serve more than 15 million children each year, lifting more than one million people out of poverty entirely and moving millions more children closer to escaping poverty. It has a record of effectiveness in increasing the likelihood of establishing paternity, securing a support order, and collecting support. But many single-parent families receive little or no child support at all, undermining their well-being and increasing their reliance on government programs.
USDA views the option to establish SNAP child support cooperation requirements as a good strategy to promote responsibility among both non-custodial and custodial parents to provide more children with the support they deserve. The memorandum lays out available approaches to do so under the current rules and offers technical assistance to pursue and implement them effectively. Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Acting Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps also wrote to Health and Human Services Secretaries and Commissioners (PDF, 37 KB) in each of the 50 states, DC, Guam and the Virgin Islands, encouraging adoption of these policies.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) works to reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets among the American people. The agency administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also works with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.