Most people who use food stamps have been severely judged at one point or another… but does the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) really deserve the scorn?
Check out these interesting food stamps facts:
Food stamps recipients are mostly employed – and many are military!
There really aren’t any welfare queens. I mean, seriously… have you read the story of the original “welfare queen?” Her issues went far beyond the use of food stamps and no rational person can think that this behavior is typical of food stamps participants.
This program simply doesn’t support unemployed adults. In fact, there are very specific work requirements that people have to comply with in order to receive food stamps. These rules apply to all adults unless they are seniors (over age 50), minors (under age 18), pregnant, disabled or responsible for the care of an incapacitated household member.
That being said, the majority of SNAP recipients are employed – and the program is designed to encourage people to work. One of the functions of food stamps (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is to supplement the earnings of low income families. SNAP often boosts a worker’s income by 10 percent or more!
In fact, over 20,000 food stamps recipients are active duty military service members! Nearly 1 in 4 children who attend Department of Defense schools are eligible for free meals. Nobody would dare accuse an active duty soldier of being a freeloader… right?!
Besides, food stamps calculations offer deductions for earned incomes. Since food stamps benefits only decline 24-36 cents per dollar of earned income, it’s not an incentive not to work. Families who work end up much farther ahead!
Students can only get food stamps in very specific circumstances.
It’s true that most able-bodied students between the ages of 18 and 49 are not eligible for food stamps. However, they can get food stamps if they are otherwise eligible and meet one of the following criteria:
- They receive public assistance benefits under the Social Security Act.
- They take part in a state or federally financed work study.
- They work at least 20 hours per week.
- They are taking care of a dependent household member that is under the age of 6.
- They are taking care of a dependent household member between the ages of 5-12 but do not have adequate child care (or are a single parent).
- They are assigned or placed in a college through certain employment and training programs, such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the Trade Act of 1974, or the Food Stamp Act.
Most people who receive food stamps are on the program 12 months or less.
The majority of food stamps recipients are on the program for one year or less, during a period of extreme financial need. According to the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, “A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study of SNAP participation over the late 2000s found that slightly more than half of all new entrants to SNAP participated for less than one year and then left the program when their immediate need passed.”
The use of SNAP benefits tends to rise and fall with the economy. A report issued earlier this year by the CBPP states that the number of people participating in SNAP “has declined by more than 4 million people, or 9 percent, since peaking in December 2012” and “has returned to 2011 levels, and is projected to continue to fall.”
You can buy supplies to grow your own food with food stamps!
Although SNAP funds can only be used to purchase food items, the list of items you can buy with food stamps does include items like seeds and vegetable starts! For households with the ability (and space) to grow a small garden, this can be the most effective use of your food stamps funds.
Food stamps is a benefit to the entire economy.
Those who want to discontinue food stamps often don’t consider the impact that would have on the economy as a whole. The Department of Agriculture’s Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has estimated that every $5 in food stamps generates $9 in economic activity!
- The USDA’s Ecnomic Research Service shows that every $1 billion in retail SNAP food purchases creates $340 million in farm production, $110 million in farm value added and 3,300 farm jobs. An additional 8,000-17,000 full-time jobs are created elsewhere in the supply chain. (source)
- SNAP beneficiaries are more likely to shop in local stores (including wholesalers, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, etc) than other buyers. This is a huge gain for local businesses! (source)
- Some towns, like Woonsocket in Rhode Island, operate on monthly boom-and-bust cycles. Retailers see a huge surge on the first of the month when food stamps are distributed and barely sell anything the rest of the month.
There are many programs that offer discounts to people with EBT cards! If your have a food stamps card, you can get discounted museum admission, low-cost Internet and more! To see all the organizations in your area that offer SNAP discounts and other programs, please click here.