Tag Archives: SNAP

Changes in Eligibility Standards Made Food Stamps a Winner in Recession

Dallas   There was some good news for citizen wealth during the recession and it can be found in the increased utilization of the food stamp program, which is now called SNAP standing for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The raw numbers tell the story. On the eve of the recession in 2007, the government was spending $30 billion or so on food stamps but by the end of 2012, five years later, the allocation had more than doubled to $75 billion.   More importantly in the same period beneficiaries have increased by 70% with almost 50 million people now receiving food stamps.

Did we get a heart or did we get smart?  It seems like we got smart.  The severity of the recession finally opened the eyes of both bureaucrats and politicians that the eligibility criteria were so difficult that many families were being forced into dire circumstances before they could qualify for food stamps.  A temporary setback caused by job loss or income decreases could force permanent impoverishment before allowing help from SNAP.   Beginning with the Obama Administration’s expanded benefits program during the bailout early in 2008, many states were encouraged to take a closer and kinder look at the impact of their draconian eligibility standards and for a change they did, particularly by relaxing some of the requirements around savings accounts, property ownership, and family income levels with some states going up to 200% of the poverty level.  The result was that 43 states and US territories opened up their standards so that more people would not be hungry while they weathered the recession.  The USDA which administers the program, partially because of the huge benefits to the American agricultural sector and not just the poor, notes correctly that this is the way SNAP was supposed to work by expanding to extend more benefits as poverty levels increased.

Food stamps are still no princely sum.  The average benefit paid last year was $133 per person or about $4 per day, but that makes a big difference when the question is eating or not eating, eating right or eating wrong, and looking for work or going to bed hungry.

Even as the recession begins to ease, let’s hope that we have learned something from all of  this over the last 5 or 6 years, and we never turn back the food stamp clock and force people to become destitute and starving before they can get assistance.

SNAP Benefits on Audio


Following Up on Mom’s Voter ID, Dave Clohessey and SNAP, and Campbell Brown’s Anti-Union Rage

New Orleans    Pennsylvania took a pass on making voting fair and other states continue to hardball voters.  It all comes too close to home.  One of the items on my list today is taking my mother out on the town.  Unfortunately that means rolling her out on the street from the facility where she is recovering from breaking her hip to a nearby Walgreen’s so she can have a passport picture taken there.  Her drivers’ license has expired as has her passport, but she would be denied the ability to vote without making an uproarious fuss in Louisiana this fall without some kind of picture ID, along with other problems.  It is easier to get a renewed passport than have her somehow endure hours in line at state Motor Vehicles locations in order to get a picture for a Louisiana official ID, and furthermore the passport is good for more years.  Without extra effort she could be counted as one of the millions whose vote would have been denied.  Oh, yes, this is about fraud, eh?  Not!

SNAP Protest

Bad news was hidden in the Wall Street Journal yesterday.  The Missouri Supreme Court rule that SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, and its beleaguered director, former ACORN organizer, Dave Clohessey, is to disclose more than 20 years of records including what were confidential communications with the victims.  This litigation was widely publicized as part of the new pushback policy of the Church after many of us had hoped some closure was coming in these matters.  The legal expenses and distractions are dwarfing SNAP and threatening its very existence, which is coming close to putting SNAP on the list of organizations (ACORN, NPR, Planned Parenthood, etc) that have been imperiled because of the core of their advocacy and efforts.  The priest’s lawyers claim they are trying to see if some of the abuse is past the statues of limitations, which is depressing on its face.  SNAP’s lawyers’ say this is a “fishing expedition,” but either way, this is a step backward and a call for support for SNAP.

To round it out, Campbell Brown, who I covered not long ago in these pages, when I encouraged people to stand up and be counted and reject her obvious efforts to debut as an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, continues to try to find a place for her velvet-gloved iron fisted Republican hard right hater politics and voice.  She recently penned a piece in a similar tryout for the Wall Street Journal, but this one was an anti-teachers’ union screed, which she has obviously market  tested as currently popular, accusing them of protecting child predators through collective bargaining agreements.  Really, now?!?  Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and former head of the New York local, UFT, pulled the wool Brown was trying to put over everyone’s eyes and got into a Twitter spat with her reported by the Times, while they also were forced to admit their own mea culpa for having been tricked twice.  Brown in her now patented fake-feminism move tried to claim that she had admired Randi and seen her as a role model, even while basically calling her an egg-sucking dog.  This Campbell Brown show is way past its cancellation date.  The gig is up and she needs to stop pretending, fly her true colors, and find her voice as a blogger for the Republican National Committee or wherever her heart truly lies.

Just saying…it’s all too close to home!

AFT protests school privatization in Chicago