Food Stamp Program

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Making the Food Stamp Program More Efficient

According to World Bank, food prices have risen by 83% in just 3 years and will likely continue to rise. With the rising food cost and the fallen economy it is a no brainer as to why we have 49.1 million people living in food insecure homes. American’s would not be starving if the government lowered the IRT, accepted more funding, denied aid to illegal immigrants, who are not working and started to inform more citizens of the food stamp program.

“The food stamp program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income families which can be used to purchase food. Through the electronic benefit transfer systems (EBT) the use of food stamp “coupons” is no longer the means in which a client receives their benefits. EBT replaces paper coupons through use of a benefits card, similar to a bank card. USDA reports that all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are now using EBT systems. One of the strengths of the Food Stamp Program is its ability to respond to local, state, and national economic changes and emergencies.”

Eligibility for the Food Stamp Program is based on financial and non-financial factors. The application process includes completing and filing an application form, being interviewed, and verifying facts crucial to determining eligibility. With certain exceptions, a household that meets the eligibility requirements is qualified to receive benefits. Legal immigrants who are children or disabled can now get food stamps, as can legal immigrants who have legally resided in the United States for at least 5 years. Other legal immigrants and any undocumented immigrants are ineligible for food stamp benefits. Also, many able-bodied, childless, unemployed adults have time limits on their receipt of food stamp benefits.

“All households must have net incomes below 100 percent of poverty to be eligible. Most households may have up to $2,000 in countable resources (e.g., checking/savings account, cash, tocks/bonds). Households with at least one household member who is disabled or age 60 or older may have up to $3,000 in resources. Currently, program benefits provide an average of nearly 90 cents a meal per person.” Who can eat off of 90 cents per meal?

Low-income working families should not go hungry, and usually need not: they typically are eligible for food stamps, which provide a safety net for families which cannot earn enough to feed themselves. But far too few working families participate in the food stamp program, and the proportion which does participate declined rapidly throughout the second half of the 1990s. Fortunately, the reasons why so few working families participate are fairly well understood. States and the federal government have the opportunity to make changes that will enable more working families to receive the food stamps they need, so no such families go hungry.

Too many American workers need help feeding their families. For many workers, especially those with few skills and minimal education, wages are simply inadequate to keep the family out of poverty. Hourly wages among families with annual incomes below twice the poverty level average $8.55, and only $8.00 among single-parent families. Wages also are very low among families that have recently left welfare: the median hourly wage for families leaving welfare in 1999 was $7.15, which was 15 percent below that year’s poverty level for a family of four. In 2001, a full-time, year-round worker earning the minimum wage of $5.15/hour earned only 58 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four.

One issue with the food stamp program is the IRT level (gross income) or asset test is too low. States can take advantage of a federal option known as “categorical eligibility” to expand access to SNAP/Food Stamps by eliminating the requirement that households...
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