Millions who qualify for food stamps don't enroll
Despite the sharp rise in the program's usage, many eligible Americans get no benefits, for reasons including stigma and lack of awareness.
While the food stamp program has come under fire for its rapid expansion during the past decade, millions of Americans who qualify for the program don't enroll.
About one-quarter of Americans who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) don't sign up, according to an analysis of 2010 data by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's 13 million out of 51 million Americans who qualified in fiscal 2010.
"Some people don't know (they're eligible), for others it's difficult to navigate the process, for others it's the stigma," Food Research and Action Center legal director Ellen Vollinger told the Huffington Post.
Still, the food stamp program has surged in enrollment and costs, with 46 million people signed up in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's compared with just 19 million in 2002.
Food stamp spending has come under fire by Republicans, whose House leaders earlier this month proposed a $40 billion cut over a decade. Some mayors want to ban the purchase of sodas such as Coca-Cola (KO) with the aid, while other critics claim the program is riddled with fraud. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., portrayed recipients as Nike-wearing, exercise-class-attending cheaters.
But fraud in the program declined to about 1% in 2006-08, according to the most recent data available, the agriculture program said. It was 4% in 1993.
Republican ire toward the program is riddled with irony, given that 213 of the 254 counties where food stamp recipients doubled from 2007 to 2011 voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Bloomberg reports.
Take Owsley County, Ky., where 52% of the population received food stamps in 2011. Its residents also supported Romney, while their representative, Republican Hal Rogers, has supported cuts to the program. That's despite the fact that Rogers' district has the biggest percentage of recipients among any held by a Republican, Bloomberg noted.
After Rogers received criticism for his stance, he addressed the issue in a letter published in the Lexington Herald-Leader, calling the program broken.
But the program might be broken for another reason. Given that one-quarter of eligible Americans don't sign up, food stamps are falling short of reaching the people in most need.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
HEADLINE: "...Millions who qualify for food stamps don't enroll.."
That's GREAT news!!! Now if we can just get the millions that don't qualify to stop enrolling maybe we can seal the hemorhage up and revert these "social" jurisdictions of American life back to the states and localities, that would be the real successful capper to this story. Remember: YES WE CAN!
Just wondering how much money we send overseas in foriegn aid.Bet it dwarfs the food stamp program.
There isn't much I can't work around in a budget, but when you have such sustained destitution like Americans endure now, the relief a few key food items has on a very weak income is astounding. The misbelief that people getting Food Stamps are taking advantage of the "system" is ridiculous. If you are so sure people are, volunteer to Walk the Walk with your assets frozen and we'll see what you do. The nation is falling apart. The Haves are causing it, not the Have Nots. Restore the Middle and get RID of both extremes and we might be able to lose the Food Stamp program.
Food stamps are like minimum wage, they are both not supposed to long term deals.
They are supposed to barely enough, a motivator to better yourself, not for you to fight to stay at that level.
Food stamps are paid for by taxes. What happens when the taxpayers disappear?
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Karma's gonna get you!
I can see by a lot of comments, that you have never been very poor. You had better watch out or you may one day have to depend on some or all these very programs that you are wanting to cut. Times are very bad in this old world. I am on a fixed income, water bill increase 20%, Gas bill increasing, electric bill going up by 10% per year last 3 years. By the way I am not on food stamps and hope I do not have to go on them. I know a lot of people who are and they are very sick and poor sometimes they can't afford their meds even if they are only $ 4.00 yes they can go to the doctor when they get sick if they even have a way. A lot don't own cars they walk, some live in tents or run down housing. some resort to selling their food stamps to get meds. Some buy drugs and commit to their death, they have
lost all hope. So hope you don't have to join them...
Explain to me why brands like Coke and items like candy are available to food stamp users?
Bread, meat, vegetables, fruit, and dairy.
Stores need to have food stamp meat i separate areas. No prime cuts.
The cards should be used for sustenance, not want.
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