One of the reasons that the cost of running the food stamp program is said to outpace the increasing participation is because of the amount that is given to participants on average. During 2007, that was around $96 but eventually grew up towards 40%, leading to $133 during 2013. This doesn’t include inflation. The current maximum monthly payment is around $668 for a family of four — therefore, as the amount of income rises, the amount of food stamp assistance decreases. The prices of the food are another big factor. Although overall inflation has averaged at 2 percent each year based on the Consumer Price Index, the cost of food itself has known to be more than double this rate. Generally, it is around 3 percent and 5.5 percent on a regular basis. The rising cost of food is responsible for a small part of the increase in the average amount that is provided to people who are on food stamps.
Although it’s said that 15 percent of Americans participate in the food stamp program, that number is much higher on the state level. Oregon, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Mississippi are all prime examples of states where over 20 percent of the population benefit from the use of the SNAP program. Representative Stephen Fincher, who is one of the strong supporters of the cuts to the food stamp program, is from a state where 21 percent of the population is on food stamps.
By eliminating the categorical eligibility state option, the bill would cut nearly 2 million low income people off of the food stamp program. There are over 40 states that have adopted the categorical eligibility state option, which was first introduced with 1996 welfare law. However, this isn’t the only negative effect that the cuts would cause. Several hundred thousand low income children would be losing their access to free lunches and other meals at school. This would be around 210,000 children in low income families whose eligibility for free school meals is determined by their family’s participation in the SNAP program. The worse factor here is that many of the children who receive free meals at their school depend on these meals for nutrition because there’s not enough food available at home for them to have balanced meals with their families.
The 1996 welfare law allowed 40 states to be able to align their SNAP gross income eligibility limit and asset test with the rules that they were using for programs that were financed under the TANF block grant. The 40 states that chose to use this option to help simplify their programs, broaden eligibility to families that were in need, help lower wage working families, and reduce some of the associated administrative costs with the program. The House Agriculture Committee bill achieves around 60 percent of its SNAP cuts from eliminating this categorical eligibility option, making it more likely to affect those who are in working families with children and low income elderly individuals.