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Do Food Stamps Make America Stronger? (The USDA Says 'Yes!')


America has more people on food stamps than Canada has citizens.

This poster was downloaded from the USDA's own website.

Image: USDA

Before President Obama took office, there were just over 31 million people on food stamps. Today, that number has grown by nearly 50%.  The chart below shows the increased use of food stamps during the last two years of President George W. Bush's second term, followed by a substantial and prolonged increase to the levels of today. According to a CNBC report filed last summer, 15% of the households in the country were relying on SNAP.

Image: Trivisonno.com

On February 8th of this year, the government reported that 47.7 million Americans were were now receiving food stamps or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). America has more people on food stamps than Canada has citizens. To give you a reference as to how large a number 47.7 million is, consider that represents a fairly large country, larger than Argentina, Poland, Canada, and all of the countries on the chart below.

Image: Trivisonno.com

And according to the USDA's "Newsroom" page, "Food Stamps Make America Stronger."

Some are questioning this assertion. Does the government's program create a dependence or is it making the country stronger?"

The Obama administration has been selling Food Stamps as a benefit to the overall economy as well as to the people receiving the assistance. From the USDA's website:

  • Every $5 in new food stamp benefits generates almost twice as much ($9.20) in total community spending

  • If the national participation rate rose just 5 percent, 1.9 million more low-income people would be able to spend an additional $1.3 billion on healthy food. This would generate $2.5 billion in new economic activity nationwide.

The government mathematics on economic benefit is explained in another section titled: "Why does increasing participation in SNAP make sense for your community?"

In fiscal year 2009, the average monthly SNAP benefit per household was approximately $272. These benefits, funded by Federal dollars, create business when they are redeemed at your local food retailers. Eighty-six percent of benefits, totaling $25 billion, were redeemed at the nation's 35,000 supermarkets. The remaining benefits, totaling $3.6 billion, contribute to the viability of 121,000 other firms which include grocery stores, convenience stores, combination stores, farmer's markets, and other retail food stores; plus wholesalers and meal services.

Last summer, the Weekly Standard noticed the increase in food stamp use as well as the government's apparent push to make the programs more of a permanent entitlement as opposed to a temporary benefit meant to assist a person during difficult economic periods. As Weekly Standard writer Daniel Harper put it, "The key here is that the federal government is encouraging greater, not less, participation in the program."

The facts in Harper's story appear to support his conclusion. However, the current administration is not the only one to blame. The federal government has been encouraging people to partake in this program for some time now. In fact, it predates the Obama presidency.

  • In FY 2006, FNS awarded more than $1 million to 15 faith- and community-based organizations to conduct food stamp outreach. In FY 2007, FNS awarded an additional $1 million to another 14 organizations.

  • In 2006, FNS awarded a total of $5 million to five States through the program to help increase access. The FSP also awarded $18 million to States for improving access and increasing program participation through performance bonuses.

  • Three outreach tool kits designed for State and local food stamp offices, faith- and community-based partners, and retailers are available on the FNS website.

A scan of the "outreach tool kits" mentioned in the last item shows exactly who the USDA is targeting for this entitlement:

  • GENERAL LOW-INCOME Eligible, nonparticipating individuals and families

  • WORKING POOR Employed individuals and families who may not understand that even though they work, they still might qualify

  • NEWLY UNEMPLOYED Recently unemployed individuals who may be in a financial crisis for the first time in their lives, and unaware of resources and assistance available to them

  • ELDERLY People 60 years old or older who may have misunderstandings about the process and potential benefits

  • LEGAL IMMIGRANTS* Immigrants may misunderstand eligibility requirements related to citizenship. *Recent immigrants who are in various stages of their U.S. citizenship process could benefit from this educational effort. You may want to connect with local SNAP eligibility workers in your community to identify other distinct groups to target. Some FNS outreach materials are available in 35 languages and can be downloaded from the FNS Web site.

Where do you stand on the subject of Food Stamps? We invite you to participate via our comments section as well as TheBlaze poll.

Food Stamps In America

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