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Why SNAP/Food Stamp Challenges Are Important

DeEtte_Peck_Oregon
SNAP recipient DeEtte Peck uses her EBT card in Portland, Ore., to purchase food. (Brian Duss)

In recent days, some news media outlets and hosts have spoken out against Newark, N.J., Mayor Corey Booker’s participation in a food stamp challenge. These remarks have served to mislead some about the vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps).

Food stamp challenges are not publicity stunts. Many have used these challenges to experience what it’s like to eat on a food budget of about $4 per day—an average daily SNAP allowance. Booker’s challenge comes at a critical time for SNAP funding, as national leaders push to reduce spending on the program during year-end negotiations over broader spending cuts and the federal farm bill, which includes SNAP spending.

Here are some facts you should know about SNAP:

  • SNAP has served more than 47 million Americans in 2012 (as of August). Enrollment in the program has almost doubled over the past five years as more people struggle to make ends meet.
  • SNAP participation closely follows poverty and unemployment rates and has responded quickly and effectively to increased need due to the poor economy. While poverty and unemployment rates rose during the last three consecutive years, the number of families struggling to put food on their tables did not increase, mostly because of SNAP.
  • The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $731 and assets of $333. Eighty-five percent of SNAP households have incomes below the federal poverty line of $22,050 for a family of four.
  • SNAP participants are on the program an average of nine months. In a family budget, food is the most easily squeezed line item—SNAP helps fill the food budget gap for households struggling with unemployment or underemployment.
  • SNAP currently has the lowest fraud and error rates on record.

For more facts about the program, read the Bread for the World publication "Get the Facts About SNAP." 

 

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