We would like to address misinformation concerning food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), in the editorial “Food stamps: Chew on this” (Aug. 21 and TribLIVE.com).
SNAP works exactly as it is supposed to work, responding quickly and efficiently to increased poverty and unemployment. Enrollment in SNAP increased in 2008, 2009 and 2010 in response to the Great Recession, not because of fraud and/or abuse, as insinuated in the editorial. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates participation will decrease to pre-recession levels as the economy recovers.
SNAP fraud rates are at an all-time low despite all-time-high participation. SNAP trafficking, the illegal exchange of SNAP benefits for cash, has dropped from about 4 cents on the dollar to 1 cent. SNAP's error rate remains at a record low of 3.8 percent. According to the Government Accountability Office, the majority of SNAP errors are a result of administrative errors, not intentional fraud. In addition, SNAP already has work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents — they are limited to three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period.
Federal nutrition programs target the neediest in our country. The vast majority of participants are not trying to cheat the system, but to honestly put food on the table while regaining their economic foothold. As Christians, called upon to protect and serve the most vulnerable among us, we must work to get our facts straight and to protect programs that help struggling families.
& Joyce Rothermel
The writers, residents of Edgewood and Wilkins, respectively, are co-chairs of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Bread for the World Team.
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