US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Who is using food stamps? You might be surprised

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

Back in my home state of Minnesota, a news graphic in the Star Tribune breaks down the demographics of the state’s recipients of SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. The main takeaway is right there in the headline: “White, poor, working, and with children under 18 receive most benefits.”

The Star Tribune notes that in 2011 SNAP served more than 500,000 people in the state by providing more than $698 million in assistance. For those inclined to believe that recipients of food stamps are just lazy or taking advantage of a handout, the numbers in Minnesota beg to differ. In all districts, the highest percentages of those receiving assistance were households with one worker within the past year. Around one third of households in each district had seen 2 workers within the past year.

So if people are working, why do they need the extra assistance? Another stat shows one of the main problems: Median household income ranged from $14,000 to $21,000, despite the presence of working people.

Not only did SNAP provide those in need with crucial food assistance, it was also good for Minnesota’s economy: Every dollar in new SNAP benefits resulted in $1.80 of economic activity.

And of course, this Friday, November 1, an automatic cut goes into effect that will cut SNAP spending by about $5 billion over the course of the next year.