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Feds Encourage Food Stamps: Helps Local Economies, 'Everyone Wins'

3:06 PM, Jul 12, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The federal government has been making the case that, with food stamps, "everyone wins," according to literature meant to promote the federal social welfare program. The argument is that accepting food stamp benefits helps to promote economic growth for the communities hosting those recipients.

"Each $5 dollars in new SNAP benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community," states the federal government pamphlet. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the official name of the food stamps program.

"Everyone wins when eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled," states the pamphlet, which is written and distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture, the federal entity responsible for the program.

View the "SNAP Questions & Suggested Answers" pamphlet here:

SNAP-QA

The federal government argument that food stamps can be beneficial to the economic well being of a community is perhaps better seen in another USDA document, this one in the form of a web page.

"Even a small increase in SNAP participation can have a substantial impact," the website states. "If the national participation rate rose 5 percentage points, 1.9 million more low-income people would have an additional $1.3 billion in benefits per year to use to purchase healthy food and $2.5 billion total in new economic activity would be generated nationwide."

The key here is that the federal government is encouraging greater, not less, participation in the program. And under a section titled, "Why does increasing participation in SNAP make sense for your community?," the government states: 

SNAP Generates Economic Activity

SNAP brings Federal dollars into communities in the form of benefits which are redeemed by SNAP participants at local stores. These benefits ripple throughout the economies of the community, State, and Nation. For example:

Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending.
Every additional dollar's worth of SNAP benefits generates 17 to 47 cents of new spending on food.
On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs.

In fiscal year 2009, the average monthly SNAP benefit per household was approximately $272. These benefits, funded by Federal dollars, create business when they are redeemed at your local food retailers. Eighty-six percent of benefits, totaling $25 billion, were redeemed at the nation's 35,000 supermarkets. The remaining benefits, totaling $3.6 billion, contribute to the viability of 121,000 other firms which include grocery stores, convenience stores, combination stores, farmer's markets, and other retail food stores; plus wholesalers and meal services.

And another USDA food stamps document,  ironically titled "Building a Healthy America: A Profile of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," suggests that despite some people not wanting to participate in the program due to "a sense that benefits are not needed," more people should change their mind--and sign up for the social welfare program.

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