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Analysis of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program

Autor:   •  February 2, 2012  •  Case Study  •  2,740 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,798 Views

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When it comes to welfare programs in America, it is hard to deny that the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective. The program has come a long way since the first Food Stamp Program started in 1939. In more recent times, the program has seen many changes, including a massive increase from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA.) Even more recently, politics has changed the direction of the program again, which will have major consequences. While the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program provides big benefits to the economy, there are still ways in which the program could be changed to increase recipient’s utility and decrease hunger.

In 1939, our county was experiencing widespread unemployment and large food surpluses, so the Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, designed a program to help solve both problems. The first Food Stamp Program allowed people to buy $1 orange stamps, that could be used to buy any food, and $0.50 blue stamps, that could buy and food labeled a surplus. Over the life of the four-year program, it helped approximately 20 million people, until the conditions that brought the program around had changed.

Eighteen years later, in 1961, President Kennedy started the next program, which still required people to buy food stamps, but eliminated the blue stamp for surplus foods. In 1964 with the Food Stamp Act, States were given the authority to design their own eligibility requirements, divided the responsibilities between the states and Federal Government, and split the administration costs equally between the states and the Federal Government. The program estimated that it would eventually provide benefits to 4 million people at a cost of $360 million per year. However the program grew much faster than expected, providing benefits to over 15 million people by 1974.

In order to combat the rapidly growing program, several key pieces of legislation came about in the early seventies. The first bill, in 1971; established national eligibility standards, work requirements, and required benefits to equal the costs of a nutritionally adequate diet. Then the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 required that the program go nationwide before July 1st, 1974, expanded benefits to alcoholics and addicts in treatment centers, among other changes.

A major change came to the program came with the Food Stamp Act of 1977, when the requirement for recipients to purchase stamps was eliminated. This, along with other changes from the bill, increased Food Stamp participation by 1.5 million people from the previous month.

From 1988 through 2004, when it became mandatory way to distribute funds, the program saw the slow implementation of electronic benefit transfers (EBT.) EBT greatly changed the program because using a debit-like card eliminated the confusion, fraud, and time costs associated with the paper stamps. EBT cards also


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