There are quite a few facts about the SNAP benefits that many people don’t seem to know or care about. Nov. 27 Ebony released an articles that laid out some of the facts that aren’t so black and white that neither side of the grocery isle seems to realize or take heed of. Most criticize the program but without it there would be thousands of people unable to eat. Here are seven facts about the SNAP benefits that most don’t know and probably should.
- SNAP is not a welfare program- Yes, thousands of people line up to get these benefits from a government agency but they aren’t a welfare program like TANF where you have to be unemployed to receive help. The program is designed to help low income earners put healthy food on the table, yet rarely is the money used for such. Soda, candy, and other less than healthy food items are allowed to be purchased with a SNAP benefits card.
- Over 75% of families receiving SNAP include an elderly person, a child, or a disabled person- Raising a child, helping a disabled person, or helping the elder is quite costly in and of itself. Most of the families that receive benefits have at least one or more of these special needs people in their households. For this reason over 85% of the SNAP program funds are given to households that fit this category so that they can use their money on things like medications or other needs that are equally as important.
- Undocumented immigrants aren’t eligible to receive benefits- Many people’s biggest complaint about the program is that it is being used by undocumented immigrants that come to America illegally. In order to receive benefits, you must be a U.S. resident or have documentation that you live here legally. If you are an immigrant, you must live in the country for five years before you are eligible for help.
- President Obama is not responsible for the most people on assistance- In a 2010 census report, from a month by month basis, President George W. Bush actually had the highest number of individuals on assistance. During his presidency, 14.7 million people signed up for SNAP because they were able to under changing guidelines.
- Over half of all recipients leave after nine months- According to the USDA, over half of all new participants in the program leave it within nine months once their immediate need has passed.
- SNAP benefits do actually help the economy and farmers- Contrary to extreme right-wing belief, SNAP benefits do actually help people other than those that need the immediate assistance. Any time you use your benefits at a local farmer’s market or use vouchers through WIC programs you are helping farmers produce more for the next coming season. For each dollar spent, $1.84 is put back into economic activity creating better opportunities for the store, or farmer that you purchased from.
- SNAP isn’t supposed to be your only source of food money- SNAP benefits are not supposed to be your only crutch to lean on. Feeding America reported that 90% of recipients run out of their benefits for the month by week three. SNAP is supposed to be a hand up not a hand out.