Posted by: MM | September 22, 2011

What should food stamps be able to buy?

“Hard times are compelling 46 million Americans to use food stamps, a number up an astonishing 70 percent from four years ago. Now totaling about $65 billion a year, the recession-swelled food stamp program is drawing attention from some conservatives in Congress who wonder whether such spending should be corralled. Part of the renewed conversation involves questions over the list of items that food stamps… (SNAP).. can and cannot be used to buy.”

“Those less sympathetic to the poor are out to undermine SNAP,” said Julie Zaebst, a food stamp expert with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. “It’s a controversial issue – what you’re allowed to eat.”

“… just two-thirds of Americans who are eligible for food stamps receive them. In Philadelphia alone, 150,000 people who can get food stamps do not, according to Zaebst. Some are ashamed. Some don’t think they’re eligible. Many cannot negotiate the formidable bureaucracy. In Pennsylvania, a family of four with an annual household income of up to $35,000 (160 percent of the poverty level) can access SNAP benefits. In New Jersey, it’s 185 percent of poverty, more than $38,000. SNAP benefits amount to around $1.40 per person per meal. As of August, 459,261 Philadelphians were on food stamps and there were nearly 1.8 million recipients statewide, according to the coalition.”

“More important than fraud or eligible food items, advocates say, is the increasing difficulty even qualified people have in getting food stamps, now that states like Pennsylvania are cutting back on the workers who process applications.”

Read the full story by Alfred Lubrano,  Philadelphia Inquirer

Courtesy: Philadelphia Inquirer

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