Record numbers receive food stamps as USDA turns blind eye to recipients’ finances

February 16, 2010 05:55

By Aleksandra Kulczuga – The Daily Caller   02/15/10

Food stamp distribution has skyrocketed since the U.S. Department of Agriculture renamed the program Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008 and began pushing states to give federal food aid to people without verifying their finances.

President Obama’s latest proposed budget includes $72.5 billion for the SNAP program, a 30 percent increase over $55.6 spent in 2009. The program is on track to double in size by 2011 — as recently as 2008 it accounted for only $37.6 billion. Since the start of the recession in late 2007, food-stamp rolls jumped from 27 million individuals to 38 million, or 13 percent of the total U.S. population. The federal government hasn’t distributed food aid to this many people since the Great Depression.

“Applicants will not need to provide documentation verifying their resources,” wrote Jessica Shahnin, associate administrator for SNAP in a letter to all regional SNAP offices encouraging them to lower barriers to entry for people looking for food assistance.

Anybody who receives other federal aid, such as Medicaid, automatically qualifies for food stamps in most states — a situation known as “categorical eligibility.”

“Broad-based categorical eligibility … refer[s] to the policy that makes most, if not all, households categorically eligible for SNAP because they receive a non-cash … funded benefit or service, such as an informational pamphlet or 800-number,” says Shahnin.

This means that anybody who inquires about a brochure for federal assistance is automatically eligible for food stamps.


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