Tuesday, August 17, 2021


In the midst of all the waves of bad news, there's one piece of good news: a 25% increase in SNAP benefits is going to kick in starting in October, and there's nothing Republicans can do to stop it. 

A recent New York Times story gives the details (while also regurgitating some of the usual b.s. about the program). Currently, at least 75% of recipients run out of EBT benefits before the month is half over, and this has knock-on effects to food shelves and other social service programs. Combined with the child tax credits, the October increase will have a significant effect on decreasing hunger and deprivation. 

For the first time, SNAP will take into consideration preparation time for foods. For example, the food budget will not be premised on the idea that people should be buying the cheapest dry beans (to soak them for hours and then cook them for more lengthy periods) instead of canned beans. 

First issued in 1975 at costs set in 1962, the Thrifty Food Plan specifies a group of foods by quantity that provide a suitable diet. Periodic updates were meant to reflect changing habits and dietary guidance. But with costs fixed, they became less attempts to estimate budgets than efforts to show it was theoretically possible to eat at the predetermined level.

The last revision, in 2006, assumed an adult woman would spend $18.58 a month on low-fat milk and fewer than 50 cents on cheese...

How much cheese can you buy for 50 cents? How does "none" sound? Yeah, I'd say none.

A recent analysis of the existing SNAP program found that it couldn't be used to purchase even a "modest diet" in 96% of counties in the United States. That's what happens when you let hatred of poor people motivate your public policy over the years. 

As UBI trials have shown, just giving poor people money results in people making choices that need to be made for their lives. They don't need to be micro-managed. Worrying about how they spend the money (the way the people from the American Enterprise Institute who are cited in the Times story do) is always an excuse to undercut the programs. And fraud — while it does exist — never comes close to equaling the cost of benefits that are not even given out to people who are eligible because they don't apply. 

If anything, this SNAP increase is not large enough. But it's a start. I hope it's not another decade before there's another one.


I've had a lot of posts about SNAP over the years, but two that are notable:

SNAP facts (April 2017)

These problems are about policy (April 2014)

No comments: