Who Receives SNAP, and How Would the House Cuts Affect Them?

September 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Stacy Dean, CBPP’s Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, talked with host Robert Siegel of National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” yesterday about SNAP (food stamps) and the House Republican proposal to cut the program, which the House passed last night.  Here are some excerpts (click here for the full interview):

SIEGEL: What does [the SNAP] population look like? Who are those 48 million Americans?

DEAN: Well, the 48 million Americans are just low-income Americans and poverty really doesn’t discriminate. The program serves seniors, people with disabilities, workers, those who are unemployed and what is a surprise to many is children. Nearly half of the program’s participants are children.

SIEGEL: Yes. According to the Census, a little under a third of all American households have a child under 18 in the household. But when you compare that to the households receiving food stamps, it’s the majority. It’s 54 percent have a child under 18 in the household.

DEAN: That’s right. That’s one of the most notable things about the program. It really is our country’s most powerful child nutrition program. In Mississippi, over 40 percent of the state’s children rely on SNAP each day to put food on the table. . . .

SIEGEL: Well, if this is a cut in the amount of money to be spent on food stamps, not an elimination of the program, who would likely be dropped from that population of food stamp recipients?

DEAN: Well, the House Republican proposal targets about four million individuals to be removed from the program. About half of those are unemployed workers. The notion is that apparently there is an abundance of jobs and some individuals are avoiding work by participating in the food stamp program. I don’t think anyone really buys into that . . .

SIEGEL: Well, Congressman Sessions of Texas buys into it. He thinks that people would be inspired to work if they didn’t get food stamps.

DEAN: Well, I think the issue, though, is that there is an absence of jobs and many, many participants on the program do work. They have to combine their wages with the benefits of the program in order to put food on the table each day.

For more on the importance of SNAP and the impact of the House cuts, see this powerful story on yesterday’s “NBC Nightly News,” which included an appearance by CBPP President Robert Greenstein.  Also see Greenstein’s statement after the House vote.

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