About one-third of the people who can get food stamps do not, meaning many U.S. states have lost out on a steady source of cash, Bloomberg reports.
According to the news service, people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, spend about $64 billion per year.
In states like California and Colorado, almost half of the people who qualify for SNAP aren’t receiving the benefits — meaning they have less money to spend elsewhere, Bloomberg reports.
“Federal food assistance does more to boost consumer spending than any other stimulus program created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus program, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics,” the newswire notes.
“In a 2008 report, Zandi found that increasing food-stamp payments by $1 boosts U.S. gross domestic product by $1.73. A USDA report two years later estimated that an increase of $1 billion in SNAP expenditures would raise GDP by $1.79 billion.”
In other words: Food stamps can help the U.S. economy, which is kinda in the toilet right now.
What experts want: more resources to help needy Americans get aid, so they can buy goods and services.
But that’s probably not going to happen.
The food-stamp program, for whatever reason, continues to be a highly politicized — and polemic — issue.
In fact, it’s already being used as a campaign theme in the 2012 presidential election, with Newt Gingrich alleging mass fraud.
In Iowa, where food banks struggle to feed the hungry, Gingrich wrongly claimed that vacations to Hawaii could be purchased with SNAP benefits — and that millionaires qualified. He got in a lot of trouble for his statements, but he hasn’t taken them back.
Instead, he keeps calling Barack Obama the food-stamp president — and implying that poor people can’t be trusted to buy food.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 9, 2011