SNAP Drug Felony Ban Stories of Impact


In 2023, the Heart Ministry Center interviewed 29 individuals who had been denied SNAP benefits due to a drug-related felony on their records. A sample of those interviews can be viewed here: 28 of the 29 interviewed had completed a drug treatment program but were still denied access to SNAP benefits.

"At the Center, we serve over 125,000 community members in our food pantry annually. The Center’s food distribution program is a “choice” food pantry, which means community members can choose what they want to eat. This allows clients to be treated with more dignity and respect while reducing waste. The Center’s food distribution program is the largest food pantry in Nebraska, and in 2023 the program distributed over 3.8 million pounds of food. The Center offers SNAP enrollment assistance as a part of our food distribution service and many are accessing this service because they do not qualify for SNAP due to their criminal records."
-- Heart Ministry Center 

Under current statute, an individual with a conviction for drug distribution or with three or more felony convictions for possession or use of controlled substances is ineligible to receive SNAP benefits for the rest of their life. LB 88 would allow these individuals to become eligible for SNAP once they have either completed their sentence or they are serving a term of parole, probation, or post-release supervision.

This ban is selectively moralistic, and incongruent when we consider that it doesn’t apply for any other type of crime. It’s cruel and willfully ignorant to say that our prison systems are intended to be rehabilitative, and for us to then send these folks back out into the world and continue punishing them by denying them access to assistance in meeting one of their most fundamental needs.

This bill has been brought many times, and I will continue to bring it until it is passed or until my time in this body is over. 

When people are re-entering society after time in a correctional facility, their first and most basic human need is food.  For many, it takes time to get established with housing, a career, and to start rebuilding a productive life.  None of that can happen for a person that is going hungry.