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Oh SNAP: Food Stamps Keep Millions Out of Poverty

Oh SNAP: Food Stamps Keep Millions Out of Poverty

It’s hard to think of a safety-net program in the US that’s been more unpopular of late than food stamps (officially, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). Republican lawmakers have voted for all but eliminating the program, presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich tried to use it as a wedge to criticize President Obama and Florida legislators are up in arms that somebody on food stamps might dare buy cookies.

Besides being good political fodder for Republicans, though, it turns out that food stamps are good for something eles: keeping Americans out of poverty. According to a new report by the Department of Agriculture, food stamps reduced poverty by 4.4% and reduced the severity of poverty by 13.2%. These statistics are even more striking with regards to child poverty; according to the report, “SNAP benefits had a particularly strong effect on child poverty, reducing its depth by an average of 15.5 percent and its severity by an average of 21.3 percent.”

Although the welfare system in the U.S. has been completely gutted in the past decades, and millions suffer as a result, there is at least one effective program that can remove some of the hardship of poverty. Since it has such a strong effect of children — who cannot be blamed by even the most heartless pundit for their plight — one might think that SNAP would even be popular among Republicans. Unfortunately, no. The New York Times reports that, when presented with the Department of Agriculture findings, GOP Congressman Allen West (FL) wrote, “This is not something we should be proud to promote.”

But if not food stamps, then what? Tax cuts for rich people, what Republicans would undoubtedly suggest, aren’t super effective at helping anyone besides rich people. Some might even suggest that there is a cycle of poverty — that taking away means-tested benefits would actually incentivize people to work hard, and that this would instill the values of hard work in poor children.

Not surprisingly, though, taking away benefits means that a lot more people live in poverty. Moreover, increasing food stamp benefits actually lifts children out of poverty. It seems intuitive that one of the best ways of making sure kids succeed is making sure that have enough food on the table (for starters). Hopefully, Congress learns this before it’s too late.

Related Stories:

While Children Starve, Up to Half of the World’s Food Goes to Waste

Food Stamps Save America from Hunger

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Photo credit: clemintine gallot.

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55 comments

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1:25AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

Food stamps are necessary for children, seniors and disabled. So many think everyone who needs help are lazy bums. I get so tired of hearing all the Republican rhetoric. I think it is time our congress gave up their perks and lived on minimum wage, social security, medicare and all the programs they are in charge of. I bet things would get straightened out fast.

1:09PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

This is just amazing,the United States will send FOOD aide Globally with out making NO suggestion of any type of CUTS,but the Republicans want to CUT FOOD-STAMPS from the American People,FOOD STAMPS HELPS WITH MANY KIDS IN AMERICA,LET US NOT FOR GET WHAT MITT ROMNEY SAID IN HIS EARLY DAYS OF DEBATING,"THERE'S A SAFETY NET FOR THE POOR"Mitt Romney Tells Rich Donors His Secret Plan To Cut H.U.D (HOUSING URBAN DEVELOPMENT)
DOES THIS NOT SHOW MITT ROMNEY & Paul Ryan true self?

10:20AM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

FOOD STAMPS ARE IMPERATIVE. AND, IF PEOPLE CHECK THE PRICES ON GROCERIES, THEY WILL REALIZE THAT THE FOOD STAMPS RECEIVED EVERY MONTH NEED TO BE INCREASED.

7:12PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

I think food stamps in the US are a brilliant way to feed poor people who from no fault of their own have lost their jobs and can`t find work!
The same thing is happening here in the UK, children are going to school hungry! We don`t have food stamps but I`ve heard that warehouses have been set up to feed those who can`t afford to buy food! Food has become so expensive now, I`m not surprised people can`t buy, also those on a minimum wage etc.

1:58PM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

Suddenly we should starve our own people. Are we South Korea? NO Food Stamps help people going through a rough patch. I have no problems with safety net programs that actually work. We need more of them.
I find it interesting that our legislators who by the way live on $158,000 plus perks think that minimum wage is too high ($7.25 per hour). Why are we paying them so much when according to many of them anyone can live on $7.25 per hour!

9:45AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

To Gene J.
Amen, brother!

8:33PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Just like the so-called problem with undocumented Latin workers, your BIG GOV has failed you again.

USDA formerly was in the past able to provide needy Americans with cheese, butter, produce, fruits but then came subsidies...more powerful than some Argi Corps. Say what, they are the same. Why give Americans the product for free, when you can double dip. In other words, charge twice to the American Taxpayer.

My only question is...Where do I get in line to reap such profits and its all legal.

5:21PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Food stamps help to keep hungry stomachs filled, but they do not last for a whole month, so unless you have a way to supplement and/or have a little extra money to put with them, then you are stuck barely getting 1 meal a day off of them! Oh, they are really hard to get! Make even $1 over the limit and you can't get any! Unfair too how they use gross income, not net (what you actually have to use after taxes and other things are taken out before you even receive any money!) not fair at all! No matter your situation, everyone deserves to have 3 decent, nutritious meals a day! On food stamps, it is cheaper and more economical to buy processed foods than fresh fruit, veggies and organic food because the food stamps will stretch farther and last longer! Try to feed a family of three on only $140 a month- not easy to do if you want fresh and organic foods!

6:18PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Everyone of every economic status deserves to be able to have the joys of having a child. Poor people are people and you are no better than them just because you have had more fortune in your life. I think everyone should get food stamps hell I wish I did get them because its hard to afford good food when your too busy trying to pay off student loan debt.

5:15PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

my problem with food stamps is that they don't allow people to buy toiletries, diapers or anything other than food. i am buying tp, paper towels, laundry soap, etc. for a family who has stamps. i won't be able to do it forever.

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