Tuesday, July 26, 2022
Six Myths About the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
MYTH: When you apply for SNAP, you take away resources from those who need it more. FACT: Participating in SNAP does not take anything away from someone who “needs it more.” The SNAP budget is both flexible and underused; most importantly, someone else’s hunger does not diminish your own. In fact, only 7 in 10 Californians who are eligible for SNAP are actually enrolled. California has one of the lowest rates of SNAP participation, but by increasing enrollment, we can direct federal attention to nutrition programs so that those who especially need it might have access to even more programs or aid.
MYTH: SNAP participation looks bad for citizenship. FACT: Applying to and using SNAP is confidential and does not impact green card status or eligibility for citizenship. Participating in SNAP is not included in the public charge test and cannot impact the immigration process. As of March 9, 2021, the Public Charge Rule was thrown out, meaning that SNAP has no relationship with immigration. MYTH: Individuals who use SNAP don’t work. FACT: Most participating households include at least one working adult, but even those working full-time are not immune to food inflation. SNAP is designed to serve low-income working families unable to maintain the cost of living. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4 in 5 participants are either employed (many of whom serve in the US military) or cannot work (this can include children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities).
MYTH: The application process isn’t worth it. FACT: Applications can take as little as 10 minutes (though after that, processing can take up to 30 days), they are currently offered in 18 languages, and a two-person household receives $240 a month for groceries. While this often does not fully cover a household’s food costs, it still improves access to nutritious options and the ability to cover other living expenses.
MYTH: Nutrition programs have a drain on taxpayers. FACT: As of 2020, SNAP only constitutes 1.3% of the federal budget, and by extension, only takes up a fraction of what taxpayers pay. With this 2%, SNAP has a positive effect on the economy–in fact, every $1 invested into SNAP generates $1.67 in economic activity. When you spend SNAP benefits, you support local businesses and help create new jobs. Moreover, it is an elastic safety net, and like healthcare, it is designed to help anybody facing a crisis.
MYTH: It is embarrassing to be on food stamps. FACT: While there is a stigma about food stamps, we’re here to change that. Your own lived experience with hunger is entirely for you to define, and it’s not our job to diminish that. Food is a human right, and nutrition shouldn’t be a luxury. Affording groceries can lessen the pressure for other expenses, and SNAP benefits are automatically loaded onto a debit card. That means no long lines or unwanted conversations at check-out. While we believe the conversation about SNAP needs to be louder, your individual experience can be as public or private as you decide.