The real story of food stamps

Feeding America's most vulnerable children

President Donald Trump wants to radically overhaul a critical safety net program which covers more than 42 million people — or roughly one in eight Americans.

His administration’s budget might slash funding for food stamps by more than $213 billion, or nearly 30%, over the next decade. The main way he’d do which will be by having the federal government buy along with send food to the vast majority of recipients, which officials say they could do for about half the cost of doling out cash.

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The package, called America’s Harvest Box, might be like Blue Apron for poor folks, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Monday.

Republicans have long wanted to downsize food stamps, known formally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. They argue which the program will be too large along with rife with fraud.

Supporters, however, argue which food stamps are an effective benefit which keeps poor Americans by going hungry. They fear Trump’s plan might leave many people without the food they need.

There are many misconceptions about food stamps. Here’s how the program actually works.

Who will be eligible for food stamps?

Households must meet three tests to qualify for food stamps. Their gross monthly income must be below 130% of the poverty line, or about $26,0 a year for a family of three.

Their net income, or their earnings after all deductions have been taken, must be at or below the poverty line. Meanwhile, families without an elderly or disabled person can’t have more than $2,250 in assets, while those with such a member may have no more than $3,500.

Related: White House wants to deliver food to the poor, Blue Apron-style

How many people receive them?

More than 42.2 million Americans participated from the food stamp program last year. After spiking from the wake of the Great Recession, the number has been on the decline for the past four years. Enrollment hit a high of 47.6 million in 2013.

chart food stamps 1

Who receives them?

As of fiscal 2016, 44% of food stamp recipients are children, along with 12% were senior citizens older than age 60. The rest were working-age adults.

Some 57% are female, while 43% are male.

Some 36% are non-Hispanic whites, while 26% are black. Another 17% are Hispanic along with 3% Asian. The race of 16% of participants will be not known.

About 11% of are non-elderly Americans with disabilities.

What’s the average monthly benefit?

A family of three gets about $376 a month, on average. They can spend which at one of 260,000 retailers which participate from the program.

Food stamps often don’t cover an entire month’s worth of food, nevertheless the program was always meant to be used as a supplement to a family’s budget.

What can’t recipients buy?

Americans who receive food stamps can purchase a wide variety of groceries, nevertheless there are exceptions. Here’s what they can’t get: Alcohol, cigarettes, hot food, pet food, soap along with paper products, household supplies or food which will be eaten from the store.

Related: Trump administration wants more people to work for food stamps

How much do food stamps cost?

The federal government spent just over $68 billion on SNAP last year. More than 93% of the funds goes toward benefits, which enrollees receive on a card, while the rest covers administrative expenses.

Are recipients required to work?

The food stamp program requires most able-bodied childless adults to work, along with in some states, parents must work as well.

Adults without minor children can only receive benefits for three months out of every 36-month period, unless they are working or participating in training programs 20 hours a week. States can waive which requirement for areas where unemployment will be at least 10% or there will be an insufficient number of jobs, as defined by the Department of Labor.

The Trump administration’s budget calls for requiring more people to work, in part by limiting states’ use of waivers.

How much fraud will be there?

Roughly 1.3 cents for every dollar will be lost to fraud, according to a 2013 U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Much of which happens when benefits are exchanged for cash or ineligible items, which typically occurs at smaller retailers.

sy88pgw (brand-new York) First published February 13, 2018: 6:31 PM ET

The real story of food stamps

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