SNAP Benefits: Old Myths Persist


Since the first Pilot Food Stamp Program in the early 1960s to the current SNAP program, the common thread through out was the intention to help those struggling with food insecurity. The program has changed and been upgraded many times since the early days but old myths and stories of abuses still exist. Here are just a few notable misconceptions:

The primary focus of income among SNAP participants is welfare. Myth                              

In 1991, 41 percent of all SNAP households received cash welfare benefits. In 2016, only 5% received cash and those were children. Overall, more than 51 percent of SNAP participants live in a household with some earnings from a job.

SNAP is rife with fraud and abuse. Myth

According to the Center on budget and Policy Priorities, the program’s error rate is at an all-time low of less than 3%. ASDA attributes the small amount of fraud to retailers, not consumers.

Most SNAP recipients are adults and those who do not want to work. Myth

Forty-four percent of participants are under the age of 18, 12 percent are 60 or older and 9 percent are disabled nonelderly adults. Nearly 55 percent of SNAP households with children had earnings in 2016. Twenty percent of SNAP households had no cash income of any kind.

According to Julie Chase-Morefield, President and CEO of Second Harvest, “SNAP benefits create food security for a lot of families.”  To become eligible for SNAP, a person must make below 130% of the federal poverty level. That is just below $27,000 for a family of three. When SNAP benefits are added to gross income, 10 percent of SNAP households move above the poverty line. The impact is even greater on the poorest households, moving 12 percent of them above 50% of the poverty line. Julie adds,” We see the most need for families that fall between 130 percent and 180 percent of the poverty level. For a family of three, that is an income less than $40,000 per year.

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Julie's Notes