Addiction Policy News

ASAM Supports Passage of the Making Essentials Affordable and Lawful (MEAL) Act

August 24, 2021


On August 24th, ASAM sent a letter to Representative Cohen affirming its strong support for the Making Essentials Affordable and Lawful (MEAL) Act of 2021 (H.R. 2837). This proposed legislation would remove the federal ban prohibiting individuals with felony drug convictions from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. The MEAL Act would also allow incarcerated individuals to apply for SNAP benefits up to 30 days prior to release.


In the letter, ASAM highlighted the importance of the MEAL Act to support formerly incarcerated individuals during their reentry process. According to research, those who are recently released from incarceration are much more likely to experience food insecurity than the general population. Food insecurity has a major effect on all facets of an individual’s post-incarceration life, including their employment opportunities and capacity to provide for loved ones. By extending access to the sweeping anti-poverty programs of SNAP and TANF, formerly incarcerated individuals will be less likely to fall into the grips of material deprivation and despair upon reentry. Additionally, ASAM framed its support for the MEAL Act as a critical racial justice issue. Federal and state drug enforcement has disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color. The MEAL Act would help to right these historical wrongs and enable individuals to access government services to stabilize their situation upon release.


Download Letter