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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Analysis

Greedy or Needy?

“I support helping the needy, but I oppose funding the lazy.” There is a wide variety of public assistance programs available for people in the U.S. Citizens and non-citizens, can directly apply online for government support, also known as welfare. Two commonly used supplemental nutrition programs used by people with low-income are WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and Food Stamps, also known as Snap (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). WIC is commonly getting used by pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children under the age of five. Every American struggle in a different way, whether it is mentally, physically, or financially. The SNAP program should be replaced with an updated version of the WIC program because SNAP benefits are easily getting taken for advantage.

SNAP benefits are sent out every month through EBT cards, then are swiped like a debit card, to buy groceries. As of September, of last year, over 42.1 million households were receiving assistance through SNAP. The average SNAP household payout is $245 per month. By the end of the month, the total payout is over 4.8 billion dollars. Rosenbaum stated that “92 percent of benefits go to households with cash incomes at or below the poverty line, and 56 percent go to households at or below half of the poverty line (about $10,390 for a family of three in 2019). Families with the greatest need receive the largest benefits, close to 70 percent of SNAP” (Rosenbaum 2019). While researching SNAP, it comes off as a perfect program, set out to help people in need.

Not everyone is treating the SNAP program fairly. Some people are biting the hands that are trying to help feed them. The EBT provided by SNAP is getting sold for cash equal to half the value on the card. People are lying about income on their applications when applying for SNAP. Sadly, EBT’s can help pay for energy drinks, candy, and soda as long as the items that are getting purchased has a nutrition fact label on it. At the beginning of 2018, it was reported that 4 percent of people new to SNAP, stopped working after receiving their benefits. SNAP should not get used as a permanent food aid program. One reason the program got made, was to help people who cannot physically make their own money. Another goal was to help people who have low-income until they get back on their feet. While a person is receiving help from the SNAP program, they make sure not to work one hour too much. If a single person’s income grows, they may have a chance of losing their monthly benefits. There are no limits on how long a person can receive SNAP, as long as they fall into specific categories when WIC can only get used for up to a year.

There are two different time limits for the WIC program. Breastfeeding mothers can receive benefits for up to one year. While non-breastfeeding mothers can receive benefits for the first six months after the baby is born. Unlike SNAP, WIC comes with a book that will hold all the checks and has the buyers’ signature on the back. The checks are not anything close to an average check. WIC checks have a list of the items that can get purchased in specific sizes. Everything that gets obtained through these checks has to be WIC approved. Pittman stated in her article that, “WIC is for pregnant women, infants and children, so the foods are limited to things like cereal, milk and juice, as well as iron-fortified formula, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, and dried peas and beans” (Pittman 2011). In 2017, 7.3 million people were receiving monthly WIC benefits.

The WIC program still has flaws and is abused. People can still sell their WIC vouchers for cash. In the process of using the illegally purchased vouchers, whoever is checking the person out, is not doing their job to the fullest. The cashier is supposed to be checking the signatures on the book and vouchers, to make sure they match. If they do not match or something is fishy, the cashier is supposed to decline them. Another flaw this program has is that people are lying on their applications. If employees behind the counters were to remember to check for matching signatures, using illegal WIC vouchers would not be so prevalent. There are a few ways that WIC could be improved and used as a replacement of SNAP.

One thing the government should change should be that any WIC users need to provide identification when using a voucher. A form of identification will help prove the signature on the WIC book matches the signature on a legal form of identification. Some SNAP users are buying items that they could live without buying. People on SNAP can buy sugar filled, sweet tooth crushing foods. Under certain circumstances, EBTS provide by SNAP, are accepted at fast food restaurants. “You would think fast food would be off limits while diapers and medicine would be allowed” (Hagen-miller 2017). Unless they have their cash, WIC users do not have the power to buy anything besides what is on their vouchers. The government should extend the buying options on WIC vouchers, to the point of being able to cook full, healthy meals. It would be like giving the people a grocery list, without having the opportunity to buy any unnecessary items. Sadly, hard-working people are paying taxes to help support people who abuse it. The abusers are then affecting the way that people look at SNAP users, who genuinely do need the extra help.

One significant impact that the government should look into should be farmers markets. They should get people on government funding to shop at local farmers markets. They provide healthier food options that do not contain harmful chemicals. Local farmer markets will not only keep people eating healthy, but also keep the small-town company in business. If they buy locally, they are helping support their local agriculture. The government should think about offering discounts or deals if the users of the new program were to shop there. The foods that farmer markets provide are fresher, cheaper, and safer. Many of the food options that they offer get based on the current season. That is one significant fact to prove that the food does not get tampered with, unlike most foods at the grocery store. Animals, fruit, and vegetables are being tampered with so that they grow bigger and faster. Unlike local farmers markets, other farmers are under contracts that are only worried about the profit income, not what they are feeding people.

SNAP users could always argue with the ideas of change in the program. Not every person who uses SNAP abuses it in any way. Some may even think the program is perfectly fine the way it is. No one is always going to agree with everyone else in the room. Everyone has their own opinions about SNAP and WIC. The average American family that has two adults, who work 40 plus hours a week, still struggle. In 2017, out of the 325.7 million people in The United States of America, 12.3 percent was living in poverty. Some people may even think that a new version of WIC, would not be able to supply their families needs to the fullest. The program will vary, depending on the number of family members. The WIC program will make sure to keep every stomach full. A large group of people that are on SNAP does not want to make more money because they will no longer receive their benefits. When a family is indeed in need, they should not complain about the program changing. The reason why the system got made was to help low-income families in need. It would be better and easier to extend the WIC program, than trying to better the SNAP program. The new version of WIC will still follow that idea, with less of a chance of abuse.

There is no such thing as making everyone happy. No matter what happens, someone out there is going to be deeply upset. People work their lives away to provide for their families and still barely get by without government help. Then there are people out there who refuse to work because they do not want to lose their extra government income. Part of being an American is helping out a neighbor when they are in need. Then again, it seems like some neighbors are taking the free advice and turning around and selling the advice to someone else. There seems always to be a way around everything. The stricter the system gets, the harder it would be to abuse it. The SNAP program should be dropped and replaced with a new, extended version of the WIC program. The goal is not to upset people, but stop abuse and the way people are getting judged.

Work Cited

  • Hagen-Miller, Linda. “Food Stamps: Junk Food But No Diapers, Medicine.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 6 Nov. 2017, www.healthline.com/health-news/why-you-can-buy-junk-food-but-not-diapers-and-medicine-with-food-stamps#2.
  • Pittman, Amber. “How WIC Works.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 29 Dec. 2011, money.howstuffworks.com/wic.htm.
  • Rosenbaum, Dottie. “USDA to Fund SNAP for February 2019, But Millions Face Cuts If Shutdown Continues.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Dottie Rosenbaum, 10 Jan. 2019, www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/usda-to-fund-snap-for-february-2019-but-millions-face-cuts-if-shutdown.

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