Photo by clementine gallot/Flickr CC
I keep reading that the economy is getting better but I think anyone who says this must be talking about fat cats on Wall Street. As for everyone else, take a look at the shocking piece about the Food Stamp program that the New York Times ran on its front page on Sunday.
More than 36 million Americans qualify for and get Food Stamps, an increase of 30 percent or so in just the last two years. The Food Stamp program, says the Times, helps feed nearly 13 percent of American adults and 25 percent of children.
The Food Stamp program, now called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is one of several food assistance programs run by the USDA. SNAP is an entitlement program, meaning that anyone who meets income eligibility requirements can get benefits. Even so, only two-thirds of people eligible for the program apply for and get the benefits. What recipients get is a credit card to use at grocery stores. The cards were worth an average of $101 per month in 2008 for individuals, and $227 for households.
SNAP participants can use the money to buy foods, seeds, and food plants. They cannot use the cards for alcohol, tobacco, pet food, supplements, paper goods, or hot prepared foods.