Center for American Progress

Temporarily Increase Food Stamp Benefits for Economic Stimulus

Temporarily Increase Food Stamp Benefits for Economic Stimulus

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An economic stimulus package should also include a temporary increase in food stamp benefits that would reach the low income people not in the tax system.

The CBO recently noted that “the vast majority of Food Stamp benefits are spent extremely rapidly.” What’s more, explains the CBO, “because Food Stamp recipients have low income and few assets, most of any additional benefits would probably be spent quickly.”

The Food Stamp Program is the most logical vehicle to reach low-income families and individuals. There are 12 million participating households. The majority of participants are children and the elderly. Both low-income families with children and low-income couples and singles without children are eligible.

On average, participating households have income close to 60 percent of the federal poverty line, but 39 percent have incomes at or below half the poverty line. And 14 percent have no cash income at all. About 41 percent of participants live in a household with earnings. Thus, providing a temporary benefit to Food Stamp recipients would reach a very needy population, much of which would not be helped by a tax rebate. The fact that states already have existing mechanisms for Food Stamp issuances would mean that the benefit could be issued quickly and efficiently.

For information on other economic stimulus policy ideas, see:

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