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About 20 percent of US households are on “food stamps.” Conservatives look at that number and say, “Good grief! Twenty percent of the US is getting a free lunch, and the rest of us are paying for it!” Liberals, seeing the same number, say “Good grief! Twenty percent of the US lives in such poverty that they can’t afford to eat without government assistance!”
Some facts may provide a clearer picture of the “food-stamp program.”
First of all, it’s no longer stamps – it’s a card, an Electrical Benefits Transfer (EBT) Card. It used to be called the Food Stamp program, but now it’s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. It’s the government assistance program to help low-income households pay for food.
Last year, 2013,76% of SNAP households included a child, an elderly person, or a disabled person. These vulnerable households receive 83% of all SNAP benefits go th these vulnerable household.
SNAP eligibility is limited to households with gross income of no more than 130% of the federal poverty guideline, but the majority of households have income well below the maximum: 83% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 100% of the poverty guideline ($19,530 for a family of 3 in 2013), and these households receive about 91% of all benefits. 61% of SNAP households have gross income at or below 75% of the poverty guideline ($14,648 for a family of 3 in 2013).
The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $744; net monthly income of $338 after the standard deduction and, for certain households, deductions for child care, medical expenses, and shelter costs; and countable resources of $331, such as a bank account.
The statistics cited in this post come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. If you’d like more information on this subject, check out feedingamerica.org — that’s what we did.