Food Stamp Act 1964 Successes and Failures
The Food Stamp Act was a component of the President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society program. The programs under the Great Society program were solely aimed to substantially improve the social welfare of the citizens in the states. The Food Stamp Program (FSP) was designed to raise the nutrition levels and safeguard the health status of the nation. The FSP gained much backing from the legislators from the agricultural department as well as the poverty-stricken groups. Since the signing of this program, many households have significantly benefitted from it. Major organizations and prominent individuals often question the effectiveness of this program. Some studies have emerged to measure the effectiveness of this program against other social assistance programs. These comparisons feature six other USDA nutrition programs offering both cash and non-cash assistance.Definition of the Problem
The FSP program was signed and launched more than four decades ago in America by the then President Lyndon Johnson. The program was introduced following the President’s declaration of war on poverty. Its main goal was to avert hunger and improve the social well-being of the low-income citizens. It was also a basis of the United States’ agriculture. More specifically, the Congress had tailored the program to enhance the agricultural economy; to help in the achievement of a better and a more effective utilization of the food excesses; to improve the levels of nutrition among the poverty-stricken households. The act founded on the cooperation of both the Federal and State governments would mitigate the occurrence of health problems in low-income areas, particularly, issues related to anemia, low birth weight, and osteoporosis.
The FSP changed its name in 2008 to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008 following a Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 mandate. The new name was to reflect the main focus on helping the low-income households to access healthy food. SNAP has increased the food and nutrition benefits substantially. For uniformity, this paper will use the new name of the program since it is the best known currently.
Literature review Analysis
SNAP has been an effective strategy in the reduction of food insecurity in the United States. In the process of determining the adjustments that ought to be implemented, it is necessary to review the current patterns. This review offers a systematic discussion of the recent publications on this subject. The review incorporates both the views of both the participants and the non-participants in the food program.
Arguments for SNAP
SNAP helps the families with a low income to access food for healthy lifestyles (Michieka, Pradhan, & Gebremedhin, 2012). This program funds foodstuffs with the recommended nutrition values which helps the low-income households to access the essential foodstuffs. SNAP supports most of the poor American population helping them to lead lives within the proposed minimum standards. 90 percent of the SNAP beneficiaries live below the poverty line. In 2005, this food program took nearly 2.5 million children out of extreme poverty raising their incomes considerably to 75 percent of the poverty line (Michieka, Pradhan, & Gebremedhin, 2012). FSP reduces the possibilities of being food insecure by assisting more than 40 million Americans to escape hunger (Michieka, Pradhan, & Gebremedhin, 2012). SNAP benefits are distributed relative to the family needs with the families having the greatest need receiving the largest supplies. This distribution is perhaps the fairest compared to other assistance programs.
SNAP is the largest food aid program offering more than 46.5 million citizens a monthly benefit of approximately $133 averagely (Michieka, Pradhan, & Gebremedhin, 2012). Unlike the other assistance programs, SNAP eligibility is not limited to particular demographic groups based on age, family size and disability (Michieka, Pradhan, & Gebremedhin, 2012). The benefits reach all vulnerable citizens regardless of the aforementioned factors. Although the SNAP benefits are funded by the federal government, the partnership with the states enhances the program’s uniformity. This implies that the program has effectively worked in the prevention of hunger and poverty.
SNAP has not only helped in the eradication of hunger and poverty but also in raising economic standards, prevention of recession, disaster response and cultivation of self-efficiency (Pomeranz & Chriqui, 2016). SNAP is undoubtedly the most responsive and effective federal program in the provision of aids in the incidents of economic downturns (Pomeranz & Chriqui, 2016). SNAP benefits the American citizens meet their nutritional requirements. This implies that the workers will be more productive and will only take fewer sick days or none at all. The program food aids also help low-income families towards their transition to economic stability. SNAP is also considered the best emergency response program managed by the government (Pomeranz & Chriqui, 2016). In 2005, the program provided approximately two million households with emergency food assistance worth $1 billion.
Neutral Arguments on SNAP
There are both intended and unintended consequences since the introduction of SNAP (Martínez & Brent, 2016). Conventionally, the food stamps are aimed to help people attain self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, some people have adopted the thought that they are ultimate means of survival for the poor. This is the unintended consequence that should be discouraged. People should not rely on the food stamps for their entire lives.
The food aids must be taken genuinely by those who have been unable to acquire food following some circumstances (Wilde, 2012). Similarly, the beneficiaries should put efforts to address the challenge. Being opportunistic on the food stamps is non-virtuous. This is highly condemned by all social institutions and a disobedience to their teachings.Against the SNAP
There have been many criticisms leveled against all forms of aids all over the world with the most popular being increasing the levels of dependency (Tanner, 2013). Ideally, SNAP perfectly in encouraging laziness among the citizens. Most of the beneficiaries are already poor and seem to do nothing about it. Developed countries like the United States hardly needs such a program. The government should rather invest in productive projects and hire the beneficiaries to work in the firms. Investing in food aids stagnates the economic development of the country since no profits are fetched from the programs.
The federal government puts more efforts on the development projects at the expense of the hungry citizens (Power, Little, & Collins, 2014). Thus the food subsidiaries are hardly of the same quality to those sold at the markets. The quality is lowered I order to minimize the expenses incurred. The foodstuffs offered are of low nutrition value putting the health of the beneficiaries in danger. SNAP also disrupts the market prices. SNAP lowers the demand for products at the real markets which leads to a consequent drop in the prices.
SNAP has grown rapidly since its launch and currently occupies the second position in the most effective social welfare program managed by the federal government in the United States. Based on research evidence, the success can only be attributed to the cooperation and decisions made by the state and federal governments as opposed to economic conditions. Roughly, at least one out of every seven citizen gets food stamps. However, there is very little proof that the rapid development of SNAP has caused any reduction in hunger or poverty among the citizens. In the absence of a recent research, the current status of the program remains to be based on faith than in statistical evidence. There is much evidence to confirm that SNAP has increased the levels of dependency and undermined the work ethic. The belief that food stamps should be short term is long-gone, and recipients remain in the program for a lifetime. SNAP should be reexamined to implement reforms on the inefficient program.
Arguing that food stamps are imperfect tools could be heartless and inconsiderate to the less fortunate. We are all prone to some low points and can need them at a particular time. However, there are many unintended consequences surrounding SNAP that ought to be stamped out to restore the initial effectiveness. Citizens should be discouraged to avoid over-reliance. The government could come up with some schemes to encourage agricultural investment. The quality of the food stamps should also be raised to equal the market standards to boost the health of the consumers. The beneficiaries should also be closely monitored and encouraged to strive for independent lives. Failure to take these reforms into consideration, the citizens will grow poorer amidst the quickly expanding SNAP.