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Posts Tagged ‘SNAP’

As I write this, we are less than 3 days away from dramatic spending cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly 48 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits, and every one of them will see a decrease in monthly benefits beginning November 1st.

           nov snap cuts cbpp

Dottie Rosenbaum, writing for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ (CBPP) Off the Charts blog, puts the real life cost into perspective.

A household of three, such as a mother with two children, will lose $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014…That equals about 16 meals a month for a family of three based on the cost of U.S. Agriculture Department’s “Thrifty Food Plan.”

Of course, the potential for further cuts does not end at the first of November.  The much debated Farm Bill is still being considered (more…)

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Work support programs are designed to sustain low-income earners and encourage work. In this they have been successful, as SNAP alone lifted an estimated 3.9 million Americans out of poverty in 2009.  And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ blog “public programs lifted 40 million people out of poverty in 2011, including almost 9 million children.”

Most of us know families must fall below certain income limits in order to qualify for government benefits. In many cases, individual states administer federally funded safety net programs and often set certain eligibility requirements for benefits such as SNAP or child care subsidies. For some benefits, the state or federal government also sets asset limits, meaning in some states even a modest savings account can disqualify families from receiving assistance.

Cliff EffectsYet another harsh side effect of eligibility guidelines is called the “Cliff Effect.” It refers to situations where a small increase in income leads to an abrupt end to a critical benefit. Two work support benefits often associated with income limits are child care assistance, which makes daycare affordable for working parents, and food assistance, which often includes work requirements.

The dilemma posed by cliff effects is that it penalizes people who are slowly working their way out of poverty and into higher income brackets. As income increases, (more…)

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Before it’s too late, I’d like to talk about National Farmers Market Week 2013, which began on August 4th and ends August 10th. Farmers markets provide a local source for fresh, nutritious food, encourage local businesses and give communities a gathering place. Pearl Farmes MarketThis is what the Pearl Farmers Market, located in Centennial Park in Tulsa, does on Thursday evenings by hosting farmers, vendors and live music from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Cherry Street Farmers Market is another well-known market in Tulsa. They operate in two locations, Cherry Street on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and on Brookside on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. And if you can’t make it to the Pearl or Cherry Street markets, have no fear. There are plenty of other farmers markets in the area, as the Tulsa World reported on in April. The USDA also has a directory where people can search for local farmers markets all over the U.S.

Like a growing number of farmers markets, the Cherry Street Farmers Market accepts SNAP benefits. As part of their efforts to promote access to nutritious food, the USDA funded efforts to equip markets across the country with the wireless equipment necessary to take the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card used by SNAP recipients.

While not all farmers markets are equipped to take EBT payments,  (more…)

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In May I wrote about upcoming cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and said it was anyone’s guess where a compromise would leave the program. Now August is here, Congress is in recess, and still nothing has been done to stave off cuts scheduled for November; cuts that will lead to a decrease in benefits for nearly 652,000 Oklahomans.

SNAP in OklahomaFurther cuts still seem inevitable. For the first time since 1973, the House of Representatives approved a version of the Farm Bill without including provisions for SNAP benefits at all. Since then, reports say the House has begun working on a plan to propose cutting $40 Billion from SNAP. This effectively doubles the cuts they proposed in their failed attempt to pass a Farm Bill in June.

Still, the Senate has yet to act on the House’s version of the Farm Bill, so the fight is not over. However, the Food Research Action Center (FRAC) is justifiably alarmed by recent developments, seeing them as an “assault on SNAP.” Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, issued a statement on the subject last Friday calling the new proposal “stunningly harsh.” And while the policy debate on further cuts goes on in Washington, the current Farm Bill is set to expire in September.

The future of SNAP is unknown, but the history of the program is not. And to fully appreciate why SNAP is a vital part of the government’s safety net, it is important to look at this issue from a historical and scientific perspective. Why do we have food programs, including SNAP, in the first place?  Why are these programs still needed today? (more…)

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In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) provided a much needed increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. However, that temporary increase in benefits will expire in November. This upcoming loss of funding has some people worried, especially since Congress is currently considering further cuts.SNAP

SNAP remains a rather popular and effective program. According to a new poll by the Food Research and Action Center, 70% of voters are opposed to cutting SNAP benefits in order to reduce spending. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently posted a series of Facts on SNAP, and their analysis shows:

  • SNAP provides a modest benefit to families with very low incomes, with two-thirds of recipients being elderly, disabled or children. (In Oklahoma, the CBPP reports that 75% of SNAP families include children and 26% are families with elderly or disabled members.)
  • SNAP families are largely working families, and of the households with able bodied adults, 58% are working when they receive SNAP and 82% work within a year of receiving SNAP.
  • SNAP is also efficient, with the rate of error and overpayment at an all-time low.
  • The size of the SNAP program is designed to grow and shrink based on the rate of poverty and unemployment, and because of this design it quickly responded to the needs of low-income families during the recession.

SNAP tracks povertyCuts in funding due to the expiration of the Recovery Act alone will mean that the nearly 17% of Oklahomans, or approximately 652,000 people, who currently receive SNAP assistance (more…)

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I last blogged about the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma in September as part of Hunger Action Month.  At the time, local restaurants were helping the food bank raise money for their Food for Kids program.  Now, the food bank is sponsoring a movie screening to raise awareness about State-Level Prevalence of Food InsecurityAmerican’s underfed families. The screening will feature a new documentary called A Place at the TableThe film, brought to us by the people responsible for Food, Inc. (2006), combines the stories of real people with commentary from experts on hunger and nutrition.  The film’s creators, as well as groups around the country, are hoping the film will spark a nationwide conversation about how to end hunger for nearly 50 million Americans.

Starting an honest conversation is important, because there is an ongoing problem with misconceptions and misinformation when it comes to hunger in America.  Proponents of food programs are constantly trying to set the record straight. In February, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities discredited many of the details behind recent efforts to incorrectly portray safety net programs as wasteful spending.  OKPolicy Blog just discussed how an Oklahoma proposal to increase work requirements for SNAP recipients would penalize underemployed Oklahomans. (SNAP is the program formerly known as food stamps).  OKPolicy rightly pointed out that many (more…)

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For anyone following Newark Mayor Cory Booker on Twitter, or keeping up with him in the news, Tuesday, December 4th was the big day. Booker will try to live a week on the monetary equivalent of the average SNAP benefit, which comes out to $1.40 a meal. Newark’s mayor will demonstrate how tough it is for low-income families to cover the cost of a healthy diet, especially if the main resource for their grocery budget is SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps.

Booker is not the first politician to take the challenge. However, his prominence has turned the endeavor into national news, and it is worth a brief discussion about how the numbers play out in Oklahoma, where 880,939 people received SNAP benefits in 2011.

First some background. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is designed to do just what the name suggests: act as a supplement to other income. Recent numsnap_logobers from the American Community Survey (ACS) show the program is largely living up to its name in Oklahoma, where an estimated 77% of participants are working families.

The supplemental income provided by SNAP in Oklahoma amounts to $1541.16 annually. The value is loaded onto a card, similar to a debit card, and funds can only be used on qualified food items; so no diapers, no alcohol, no dog food, and no vitamins.

To qualify for SNAP in Oklahoma, monthly household income for a family of four must fall below $2,422, or $29,064 annually. Combining the average SNAP benefit with the maximum allowable income in this scenario puts total household income at $30,605.16. According to Federal Poverty Guidelines, this combined total puts a family of four at about 137% of (more…)

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