Sep 03 2009

More People Using the Food Stamp Program

By Rocio Blanco Garcia

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as the Food Stamps Program, brings food to millions of household today, and it could bring food to yours too –if you qualify.

The program which started under the leadership of Henry Wallace, the Secretary of Agriculture in 1939, provides food to low and no income people in the United States.

The program, however, recently changed its name to include the Federal Government’s focus on providing beneficiaries with something more than food. The Government is interested in making good and healthy nutrition available to everyone. But the change in the name did not bring changes to the requirements applicants must meet. Those who qualified to receive assistance under the previous name may still qualify today.

The requirements:

No more than $2,000 in bank accounts and a gross monthly income of $1,907, or less, for a family of three. Applicants must have a social security number, and all able-bodied adults must meet certain work requirements.

If you are eligible for the program you could receive up to $130 for one person and more than $250 for a couple. But to get the money you must first apply.

To apply for benefits or to gather more information about the program you must contact your local SNAP office, where you will fill out the state application form. If you qualify, you will receive an electronic card that is used like an ATM card and accepted at most grocery stores.

This card, however, can only be used to purchase regular foods and seeds to grow at your house. Pet food, heated food and alcoholic beverages cannot be purchased with the card.

Since the program began more than six decades ago it has helped many, this year the program is helping more people than ever before.

The reason: the economic crisis.

With our country facing a recession many are losing their jobs, and bringing food to the table is becoming more difficult. It’s for that reason that according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), last September participation in SNAP topped 31.5 million. But while the economy has indeed been the main force behind these numbers, it has not been the only force. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which hit Louisiana and Texas, also played a role.

According to the FRAC, today in nearly half of the states, one out of every ten residents is receiving food stamps, and you could be the next one to receive help.

For more information about the program and to take an eligibility test visit www.fns.usda.gov/FSP/ or call 1-866 762-2237

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