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SNAP Participation Still on the Rise
Nearly 15 percent of all Americans participate in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), according to the newly-released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures for May 2011. That’s a record 45,753,078 people.
While many argue that SNAP spending is “out of control,” two examples illustrate that the program is working as it should be—serving more people during economic hard times:
- As poverty and unemployment have increased, the number of participants has also gone up since the beginning of the recession in December 2007.
- The May 2011 figures include people affected by tornadoes in Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia, who received benefits under SNAP’s disaster program.
Bread for the World members have consistently supported a strong SNAP program that is accessible to all who are eligible. In many states, eligibility requires an income of less than 130 percent of the poverty level—for example, an individual’s income must be less than $14,088 a year.
In its article “The Struggle to Eat,” The Economist reports that less than 10 percent of SNAP participants also participate in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), a cash-payment program for low-income people. The largest group of SNAP participants is low-wage workers and their children. (In fact, children alone make up 50 percent of all beneficiaries). The article adds that the average participating family has only about $100 in savings or valuables.
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