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What You Need To Know About SNAP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP is the biggest federal nutrition assistance program. It gives benefits to qualified individuals and families through an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card is like a debit card that can be used to buy eligible food in authorized retail food stores.

Certain bank balance limits must be met in order to qualify for this food assistance benefit. The program helps people to buy certain foods they need which can help maintain good health. It is also good to note that people eligible for SNAP can purchase food garden seeds to plant.

And as mentioned, SNAP can only be used to buy food. It cannot be used to buy alcoholic drinks, tobacco, and other things that cannot be eaten or drunk. It cannot be used to pay for any food bills a person owes as well.

Low-income individuals or families can be eligible for SNAP benefits as long as they meet all the requirements or program rules. And those who are already receiving the benefit need to be reassessed after a certain amount of time to check if they still qualify. It must also be taken into consideration that if the individual or family who is receiving the benefits do not follow the rules and use the benefit to buy things not allowed, the benefits can be suspended, or totally removed.

The benefits and how long people can receive them depends on age, number of people in the family, total household income, and if pregnant. A household with a family member over 60 years old, or a disabled household member can have a higher income or bank balance limit.

Receiving SNAP benefits does not mean that the individual or family do not need to work anymore. People between the ages 16 to 59 should follow the work rules to get the SNAP benefits. These rules mean that a person must have or look for a job or be involved in an approved work program. And if the person receiving SNAP benefits has a job, they can’t quit their job without a good reason.

Recognizing The Importance of SNAP

There is no single guideline that determines one’s eligibility for SNAP. What is SNAP and what good can it do?

SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the federal nutrition program that allows families and individuals purchase healthy food by helping them stretch their budget, formerly known as the food stamp program.

Not all individuals or families in America may need the food budget assistance, but in the nation’s rural communities where most foods are grown, millions of hard-working Americans, children, and seniors are experiencing, and enduring food source instability. This is where SNAP help in providing solutions for several families and individuals.

However, in recent years, the government’s budget for the food program is lessened by more than $200 billion over the next decade. Rural Americans will undoubtedly be hugely affected by a budget cut of this magnitude.

The participation rate for the food program continually rose from 2010 to 2015 from 12.5 percent to 16 percent, which exceeded the national average. Following the Great Recession, people who applied for SNAP eligibility have lessened, however, compared to other parts of the nation, the SNAP enrollment rates in the rural parts of America remained high. Which is due mostly to the slow recovery of the economies. The importance of SNAP in rural America is heightened, given the broader socio economics in the area.

Limited incomes of families and individuals, especially seniors who do their best to balance expenses as they care for themselves raise the need and importance of SNAP because the program is a big resource that aids them and lessens their concerns over expenses for food to lay on the table. The program also provides a huge help for families with children under the age of 18, the years where providing good nutrition is very essential for childhood development. A closer look shows a big percentage of seniors and families with children of the said age enroll and participate in SNAP in rural households.

As the country's policy makers continue to deliberate over the future funding of SNAP, for rural America, it must be recognized as an investment. For rural residents, SNAP is a critical defense against food instability and poverty, and it needs to be maintained as such.