Three Misconceptions About Food Stamps



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One of the most significant political debates in the U.S. is the need for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or more commonly known as food stamps. It’s no secret that our nation has been torn on this debate for some time. Some people believe that those who use food stamps are just looking for a hand. The reality is that  there are people who abuse the system, so they do, however that is not the average lifestyle of a person receiving food stamps.



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1.)    The average food stamp recipient is a child

Currently, 21% of all families in the U.S. face food scarcity. SNAP was designed to target families who need it the most by increasing their ability to buy food. Over half of all recipients are children, with the majority of other recipients being elderly or disabled. Without the program, more families would be unable to put food on the table. Recent budget proposals have wanted to cut the funding by 29%, which would only leave more children and those in need without adequate nutrition.

One of the biggest misconceptions about SNAP is that anyone can receive benefits if they are below a certain income level. Individuals without children are only eligible to receive food stamps for three months, every 36 months. Current proposals have wanted to create more strict regulations by implementing minimum job requirements for single beneficiaries. One of the biggest misconceptions about SNAP is that anyone is able to receive benefits if they are below a certain income level.



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2.)SNAP sets limits

Food stamps are not available for just anyone. Recipients who have vehicles valued at over $4,650 are no longer eligible to receive benefits. Besides, households that do not have members who are elderly or disabled are not allowed to have more than $2,250 in their bank account; if they do, they are no longer eligible to receive benefits.  The limit for households with elderly members is capped at $3,500. By no means is this enough money to be considered well off, in fact, it is barely enough money to survive off of for two months. These limits don’t encourage households to save, because once they hit their limit and are dropped from the program all the money they saved is going towards the next few months food consumption.



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3.) The Actual Benefits

Current benefits give each person in the household approximately $4.50 per day to use on food. For anyone who has gone food shopping, they know that $135 isn’t enough money per person for a month to spend on groceries. Households are still coming out of pocket, 20-30% for their food costs. This is because SNAPis not designated to cover all food costs; it is just to alleviate the pressure and increase the purchasing power for families who face food scarcity.

Legislators have recently tried to cut funding to the program and create stricter regulations for those who are enrolled. For anyone who has ever gone without food, or wondered where their next meal is coming from, find this completely absurd. Food scarcity is a real problem that over one-fifth of U.S. Citizens experience. SNAP is there to give low-income families a means for survival because no one should ever have to wonder where they are going to get their next meal.

Sources:

“A Quick Guide to SNAP Eligibility and Benefits.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4 Dec. 2019, https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/a-quick-guide-to-snap-eligibility-and-benefits.

Gundersen, Craig. “The Right to Food in the United States: The Role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. 101, no. 5, Oct. 2019, p. 1328. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1093/ajae/aaz040.

Khazan, Olga. “How to Fix the Food Stamp Program Without Cutting It.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 May 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/05/the-messy-relationship-between-food-stamps-and-health/527820/.

Larson, Nicole I., and Mary T. Story. “Food Insecurity and Weight Status Among U.S. Children and Families: A Review of the Literature.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Elsevier, 13 Jan. 2011, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0749379710006380.

Montgomery, Andrew. “TOP 10 REASONS FOOD STAMPS NEED TO BE REFORMED.” FreedomWorks, 13 June 2013, https://www.freedomworks.org/content/top-10-reasons-food-stamps-need-be-reformed.

Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore. “Pros and Cons of Restricting SNAP Purchases.” Brookings, Brookings, 16 Feb. 2017, https://www.brookings.edu/testimonies/pros-and-cons-of-restricting-snap-purchases/#footnote-1.

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