The toughest state for getting food stamps
Turns out it's not one of the GOP-led, conservative ones. Liberal California has the lowest participation rate in the country.
In the political debate over soaring food-stamp usage, one state stands apart from the rest: liberal California, which ranks as the most efficient U.S. state at keeping residents off the rolls.
Only 55% of eligible Californians received food stamp benefits in 2010, the lowest participation rate of any U.S. state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nationally, about three-quarters of eligible Americans sign up for the food aid program.
How does California discourage residents from signing up? Unfriendly offices, tough requirements and confusing applications, according to the Los Angeles Times.
That may please some conservatives who criticize the program as bloated and prone to fraud, but it also may be hindering California's economy, the Times notes. Because the program is funded mainly by the federal government, California is missing out on about $6 billion in potential federal aid that its residents could spend at local food stores.
Even at 55% participation, California is the biggest food-stamp state, on a dollar basis. About $6.48 billion in food aid was distributed to residents in fiscal year 2011, more than any other state, according to the USDA.
The paradox of food-stamp usage is shown in stark relief by looking at Texas, helmed by a Republican governor and known for its right-leaning population.
The Lone Star State had nearly 4 million residents claiming food aid in fiscal 2011, more than California's 3.67 million participants. Texas' food-stamp bill of about $6 billion was lower than California's because Texans get smaller per-person benefits. But about 65% of eligible Lone Star State residents receive the benefit, according to the USDA.
Despite Texas Gov. Rick Perry's vow to slash government spending, the state has eliminated the requirement that food stamp participants get fingerprinted, the Times noted. (California's Gov. Jerry Brown later signed a bill to do away with that requirement.)
Indeed, the reality of food stamp usage doesn't always jibe with political leanings. For instance, 213 of the 254 counties where food stamp usage doubled from 2007 to 2011 voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, according to a Bloomberg estimate.
To be sure, several liberal-leaning states have the highest participation of eligible residents. Maine and Oregon, for instance, top the list at 100% participation. But Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky -- whose voters supported Romney in 2012 -- were among those right-leaning states with higher-than average participation rates.
The food stamp program is also coming under fire from some mayors who want to ban the the benefit's use to buy sodas such as Coca-Cola (KO), while health advocacy groups are urging the government to restrict junk-food purchases.
The bottom line, however, is that it's not always in a state's best interest to stem food stamp enrollment because of the benefit to local spending.
Or as senior research fellow Robert Rector of the conservative Heritage Foundation told the L.A. Times: "It would bring them political controversy and no financial gain for their state. It is like asking them to jump into a buzz saw and to bring their governor along."
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
"How does California discourage residents from signing up? "
The application is in English,
I went to college in Kentucky. 80% of the food stamp recipients live in the city of Louisville. Within the city limits of Louisville, it is 75% black. Blacks voted 96% for Obama. It's the same situation in Mississippi which has the highest black population percentage in the US. So the food stamp freeloaders are people who are ultra-liberals and always vote democrat. Funny how the ultra-liberal reporter does not tell us this.
a lot of people are selling the food stamp money..........they will buy someone 200 worth of groceries for 100 cash.........and then they go buy drugs............another reason these people need to be drug tested
Here's one. Went to Walmart. Woman in front of me paid with food stamps benefit card. Apparently if you have a balance, you can get cash back, which she did. got back in line then brought cigaretts with the money. I complained to the cashier who told me it was none of her business what the customer did with the money.
PS-I am 67 and still working. Have been since I was 15. Maybe I am the crazy one.
drug test for food stamps cant pass no food stamps
SORRY I AM NOT BUYING CALIFORNIA IS THE LOWEST! BULLCRAP! MORE LIES BY MSN!
WHERE'S THE STORY ON SHOOTINGS AND DEATH IN CHICAGO? MSN? HELLO? YEAH
KEEP PUSHING THE ANTI CONSERVATIVE RACIST MEAN PEOPLE WANT CHILDREN TO
STARVE! BUT FUNNY MOST HAVE BIG SCREEN TVS AND NEW CARS AND IPHONES AND
TABLETS AND VIDEO GAMES WHILE THE WORKING PEOPLE PAY MORE TAXES!
I SEE MORE BS FROM LEFT WINGER NOW EXRUB WHO WAS NEVER A REPUBLICAN! LIAR!
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