The facts on SNAP

Published Jul 10, 2013 at 7:23 am (Updated Jul 5, 2013 at 11:59 am)

The Almanac editorial about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Farm Bill Defeat Both Good, Bad, June 26) contains the following critical portion: “Too many people take advantage of the system, again making it costly. SNAP should be something temporary that helps families in unfortunate circumstances get by. It should not be something that takes away motivation to become a productive member of society.”

In every facet of the Almanac’s assertions, SNAP has failed.

Here are the facts:

SNAP costs about $80 billion per year, more than two percent of federal expenditures and one of the larger expenditures for any single program in the federal budget.

The program was designed as a supplement to provide food for the hungry on a temporary basis, not to serve as the sole provider of a family’s food.

Unlike the Women with Infants and Children program, SNAP participants have the ability to purchase empty calorie, unhealthful junk food with SNAP dollars, including chips and soda.

The average SNAP benefit is about $180 per month, per beneficiary.

At the time of its initiation, SNAP served one in 50 Americans.

SNAP now serves one in seven Americans and the number of beneficiaries is not forecast to decline in direct correlation to an improving economy.

Half the number of SNAP recipients have been participants in the program for eight years or more.

Instances of SNAP fraud are frequent and easy to perpetrate when a crooked store owner is willing to provide cash in exchange for the recipient’s benefit.

The government is today engaged in an extensive effort to increase the welfare rolls by using extensive public service announcements on radio and television to encourage individuals to apply for SNAP benefits.

My conclusion from the facts: The problem with well-intentioned expansions of entitlement programs, to paraphrase beloved late British Premier Margaret Thatcher, is that you eventually exhaust the ability to spend other people’s money.

Oren Spiegler

Upper St. Clair

The facts on SNAP

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