There are lots of misconceptions and myths about the SNAP (food stamp) program, and market managers and farmers that accept SNAP benefits hear these routinely. Listed below are the most common myths and their corresponding facts to help set the record straight!
MYTH: The Food Stamp Program is a welfare program.
FACT: The Food Stamp program is not a welfare program or part of the welfare system at all; it is a nutrition assistance program. The goal of the program is to increase a household’s ability to buy more nutritious foods from neighborhood food stores.
MYTH: SNAP is just another bloated government program.
FACT: In fact, the administrative expenses for SNAP are 5-8 percent … which is better than the vast majority of nonprofits in the United States. Administrative costs cover things like eligibility determinations, employment and training, nutrition education for SNAP beneficiaries, and anti-fraud initiatives to assure compliance by the more than 230,000 participating retail outlets.
MYTH: SNAP is wasteful and gives money to the wrong people.
FACT: SNAP actually is deemed to be the most efficient major benefit government assistance program in operation, with an efficiency of 96.2% in 2011. The majority of errors in disbursement end up being underpayments. According to the USDA, the rate of administrative errors in SNAP has reached a historical low of 3.81%, with more than 98% of SNAP beneficiaries meeting stringent eligibility requirements.
MYTH: By accepting Food Stamps, I am taking money away from someone who needs it more.
FACT: The Food Stamp Program is an entitlement program. That means that anyone who applies and is found eligible for the program will receive benefits. There are enough benefits for all of those who are eligible.
MYTH: I can’t get SNAP if I am working or receiving unemployment benefits.
FACT: Many people who work at jobs with low wages, or receive unemployment benefits, are eligible for SNAP.
MYTH: Undocumented immigrants are eligible and the big beneficiaries of SNAP.
FACT: Unauthorized immigrants have never been eligible for SNAP benefits, although the income-eligible citizen children of undocumented immigrants may be eligible.
Documented immigrants are only eligible for SNAP benefits after living in the U.S. for 5 years. Exemptions to this rule include: refugees, asylees, veterans, and active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, their spouses, and unmarried dependent children. Fewer than 1-in-20 people receiving SNAP benefits at all are non-citizens, generally because they are spouses of citizens.
MYTH: Many states are making efforts to enroll people who are eligible for SNAP, but choose not to participate. These people don’t seem to want government assistance, so why should the government go out of its way to enroll them?
FACT: Surveys conducted by the USDA have found that only 17% of eligible non-participating households do not participate in SNAP because they do not want the help. The majority of non-participating households are either unaware of their eligibility for SNAP or experience other barriers such as the time needed to enroll or transportation issues. In fact, 69 percent of survey-takers said that they would apply for SNAP if they knew that they were eligible.
Download the Word .doc for more myths and facts!