Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Food Stamp Eligibility in United States

Government programs do a great deal to help people with financial difficulties. Government programs  such as SNAP (Supplemental National Assistance Program) reach a large percentage of people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to adequately provide for themselves without the help i.e. families with children, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Providing sustenance for these groups of people allows the base for becoming productive citizens and keeps our country from joining the likes of third-world countries that allow their poor and needy to perish from starvation. SNAP also has a largely beneficial economic impact. Not only do the Food Stamps provide food for the individuals and families, it also frees up funds for these people to provide clothing, housing and further education/vocational training. These additional resources allow people who receive them to “pick themselves up by their boot straps.” Additionally, each dollar paid out through SNAP has a net-economic benefit to the nation’s GDP of $1.70. SNAP pay-outs act as a financial multiplier and help promote economic growth. 

The US can improve the effectiveness of its SNAP and other similar nutritional assistance programs by removing inefficiencies in the programs. One of the largest inefficiencies is the overlap between SNAP and other smaller programs. This overlap allows some citizens to claim benefits beyond their base needs. This leads to money paid out through these programs to be used effectively by the citizens who receive them. Deleting this overlap would likely lead to a larger net economic benefit for the country. It would also leave more money to be distributed to a larger percentage of people. The USDA would be prudent to bring in a group of third party experts to study and monitor the programs. These experts would be able to provide oversight to the entire array of USDA food assistance programs and be better informed/able to find duplicity in distribution of funds. Another way to increase the efficiency of the program would be to improve/streamline the application and subsequent certification processes. Reducing the lead time to getting the assistance that these families need would quicken their individual economic recovery and the economic recovery of the nation as a whole.

In summary, I believe that many income-based government assistance programs (such as the Supplemental Assistance Program, Lifeline Assistance Program and others) go a long way in helping those that are truly in need. These programs go a long way in building the foundation of a productive and “normal” life for these disadvantaged individuals. There is some inefficiency in these programs, just like with any major multi-million dollar operation. Addressing these inefficiencies would just further promote the growth of the program itself, as well as the growth of those that receive the assistance. It would also allow others that are on the cusp of receiving benefits of these programs to become part of the inclusive group.

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