Deli sandwich with chips and soda $5.00; filet mignon from your favorite butcher $26.00; live main lobster $18.00; using your Food Stamp ACCESS card to purchase these items….PRICELESS. Many individuals receiving public assistance benefits view Food Stamps as priceless. And why not, as a recipient, you can eat and drink (non-alcoholically) like royalty, without spending a dime of your own money. But for others, especially the elderly, even though they may qualify for Food Stamps or may need them desperately, often they’re just too embarrassed to apply for them or share with others that they use them.
Whether you’re shopping at the Fulton Street Fish Market, your favorite supermarket, or the Papi store on the corner, you can purchase canned, packaged, frozen or fresh food, thanks to the US government. For many individuals and their families, the Food Stamp Access Card is quickly becoming the new American Express card of the 21st century.
According to newly released information from the Department of Agriculture, the number of recipients in Food Stamp programs across the nation has reached 47.5 million or one in six Americans (and still growing.) The Food Stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may have changed their name, but their service of providing food for the needy is still the same.
The Food Stamp Program is officially administered by the US Department of Agriculture, but is disbursed through various programs as mandated by their individual state.
Of the many states that administer Food Stamp programs, Mississippi and Washington, DC have the largest populations relying on these benefits; 22% in Mississippi and 23% in Washington, DC, respectively.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 51 million Americans currently qualify for Food Stamps, but less than 40 million people actually receive the benefit. Why?
According to Ellen Vollinger, Legal Director of the Food Research and Action Center, (FRAC),”there are several reasons why people miss out on Food Stamp benefits: some people don’t know that they are eligible for the programs; others find the application process too difficult and cumbersome; and others, feel that there is a socio-economical stigma attached to receiving public assistance benefits, which makes them shun away from applying.” In my opinion, these reasons, coupled with the emergence of programs like ‘Meals on Wheels,’ make older Americans hold out much longer before applying for the Food Stamp cards they’d be embarrassed to use in public.
According to the USDA, the number of people receiving Food Stamps or SNAP benefits varies according to demographic groups. However, eligible, older Americans are generally much less inclined to sign up for the SNAP benefit.
Vollinger, also stated that “One of the misconceptions that FRAC commonly hears from the elderly is that “they don’t want to take away benefits from someone else who may need them.” She further explained that she’s consistently explaining to the elderly that one person’s participation in the program doesn’t reduce the benefits available to others.
Vollinger, who also directs FRAC’s advocacy on behalf of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), has led FRAC’s efforts to bolster Food Stamps, particularly to serve working families, legal immigrants and victims of disasters.
Since their inception, Food Stamps have proven themselves invaluable over-and-over again to those in need. And although they may not be as versatile as an American Express card, they’re still priceless to the families that receive them.
See for yourself.
|SNAP Food Stamp Program
Maximum Monthly Allotments
|People in Household||October 1, 2012 through September 30, 2013|
|Each additional person||$150|
Written By DeBorah Heggs Alston