Document Sample

    Health and Human Services Agency
               Jolie Ramage
What Are Food Stamps
   A Federally funded “Nutrition Assistance
    Program” – not a Welfare Program.
   Helps low-income people buy food.
   Administered by the U.S. Department of
    Agriculture at the Federal level through its Food
    and Nutrition Service (FNS).
   State agencies administer the program at the
    State and local levels, including determining
    eligibility and allotments, and distribution of
 The “Food Stamp Plan” began in 1939 to
  help needy families in the Depression era.
 The modern program began as a pilot
  project in 1961 and became a permanent
  program in 1964.
 Major expansion of the program occurred
  after 1974 when Congress required all
  States to offer Food Stamps to low-income
 Participation has since grown to an
  average of 23.9 million persons.
Who Can Qualify
   Households must meet eligibility requirements
    and provide information – and verification – about
    their household circumstances.
   U.S. citizens and some non-citizens who are
    admitted for permanent residency may qualify.
   USDA has a toll free number for information
    about the Food Stamp Program – (800) 221-5689
    San Diego’s Public Assistance Information (PAI)
    number is (866) 262-9881.
   And our County website is
   Households may have no more than $2,000 in countable
    resources such as a bank account ($3,000 if at least one
    person in household is age 60 or older, or is disabled).
   Your home is not counted if you live in it.
   All vehicles are exempt.
   The gross monthly income of most households must be
    130 percent or less of Federal poverty guidelines ($1,744
    per month for a family of three in most places, effective
    October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006). Gross
    income includes all cash payments to the household, with a
    few exceptions specified in the law or the program
Participation (continued)
   Net monthly income must be 100 percent
    or less of Federal poverty guidelines
    ($1,341 per month for a household of three
    in most places, effective October 1, 2005
    through September 30, 2006). Net income
    is figured by adding all of a household’s
    gross income, and then taking a number
    of approved deductions for child care,
    some shelter costs and other expenses.
    Households with an elderly or disabled
    member are subject only to the net income
Participation (continued)
 Most able-bodied adult applicants must
  meet certain work requirements.
 All household members must provide a
  Social Security number or apply for one.
 Federal poverty guidelines are established
  by the Office of Management and Budget,
  and are updated annually by the
  Department of Health and Human
How To Apply for Food Stamps
   Go to the local food stamp office and fill
    out an application.
   You have the right to submit the
    application the same day.
   You can also call the office and ask them
    to send you an application, fill it in and
    send it in by mail.
   The local office will give you an
    appointment for an interview.
   Interpreter services are available.
How To Apply (continued)
   The Food Stamp Program prorates the first month’s
    benefits from the day the local office gets your application,
    so it’s to your advantage to get the application to the office
   Just give the local office your name, address and signature,
    if you can’t complete the form immediately.
   Food and Nutrition Service has a new on-line pre-screening
    tool that will tell you whether you might be eligible for food
    stamps, and how much you may be eligible to receive, so
    you can see if whether it would be worth your while to go to
    the food stamp office and apply – stamps-
Household Food Stamp
   Eligible households are issued a monthly
    allotment of food stamps based on the Thrifty
    Food Plan, a low-cost model diet plan.
   The TFP is based on National Academy of
    Sciences’ Recommended Dietary Allowances,
    and on food choices of low-income households.
   An individual household’s food stamp allotment
    is equal to the maximum allotment for that
    household’s size, less 30 percent of the
    household’s net income.
Household Food Stamp
Allotments (continued)
 Households with no countable income
  received the maximum allotment ($399 per
  month in Fiscal Year 2006 for a household
  of three people).
 Allotment levels are higher for Alaska,
  Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands,
  reflecting higher food prices in those
 The average monthly benefit was about
  $86 per person and about $200 per
  household in FY 2004.
  Income Eligibility Standards
The following chart lists the current gross and
net income eligibility standards for the
continental United States, Guam, and the Virgin
Islands, effective October 1, 2005 to September
30, 2006. Eligibility levels are slightly higher for
Alaska and Hawaii.
Income Eligibility Standards                                     (continued)

   Household Size         Gross Monthly Income        Net Monthly Income
                         (130 percent of poverty)   (100 percent of poverty)
          1                      1,037                       798
          2                      1,396                      1,070
          3                      1,744                      1,341
          4                      2,097                      1,613
          5                      2,450                      1,885
          6                      2,803                      2,156
          7                      3,156                      2,428
          8                      3,509                      2, 700
Each additional member            +354                       +272
 Income Eligibility Standards                                (continued)

The current maximum allotment levels for the continental United States,
in effect from October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006 are:
 Household Size                     Maximum allotment level
                 1                                $152
                 2                                 278
                 3                                 399
                 4                                 506
                 5                                 601
                 6                                 722
                 7                                 798
                 8                                 912
    Each Additional Member                         +114
    Food Eligible for Purchase with
    Food Stamps
Households CAN use food stamp benefits to buy:
 Foods for the household to eat, such as:
     –   breads and cereals;
     –   fruits and vegetables;
     –   meats, fish and poultry; and
     –   dairy products.

   Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to
Foods Eligible for Purchase with
Food Stamps (continued)
Households CANNOT use food stamp benefits to
   Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco.
   Any nonfood items, such as:
    – pet foods;
    – soaps, paper products; and
    – household supplies.
   Vitamins and medicines.
   Food that will be eaten in the store.
   Hot foods.
 Foods Eligible for Purchase with
 Food Stamps (continued)
In some areas, restaurants can be authorized to
accept food stamp benefits from qualified
homeless, elderly, or disabled people in
exchange for low-cost meals. Food stamp
benefits cannot be exchanged for cash.
Fraud Prevention
   Retailers who violate program rules can face
    heavy fines, removal from the program, or jail.
   Individual food stamp recipients who sell their
    benefits can also be removed from the program.
   Use of electronic benefit transfer—EBT—to issue
    food stamp benefits.
   EBT uses a plastic card similar to a bank debit
    card to transfer funds from a food stamp benefits
    account to a retailer’s account.
Fraud Prevention (continued)
 With an EBT card, food stamp
  customers pay for groceries without
  any paper coupons changing hands.
 EBT eliminates paper food stamps
  and creates an electronic record for
  each transactions that makes fraud
  easier to detect.
Fraud Prevention (continued)
   All states have now adopted EBT for food
    stamp issuance, and in some cases for
    other programs such as USDA’s Special
    Supplemental Food Program for Women,
    Infants and Children (WIC), and the
    Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
    (TANF) program, the Federal block-grant
    program operated by the Department of
    Health and Human Services to provide
    cash assistance to needy families.
Monthly Allotment
 Benefits do not have to used up in the
  month they are issued.
 Any benefits remaining in your Food
  Stamp EBT account at the end of the
  month WILL be carried over into the next
 If you have not used your EBT card at all
  for one year, the State will begin the
  process of permanently removing your
  food stamp benefits from your EBT
Program Integrity
 USDA works closely with the States to
  ensure that they issue their benefits
 State workers carefully evaluate each
  application to determine eligibility and the
  appropriate level of benefits.
 USDA monitors the accuracy of eligibility
  and benefit determinations.
Program Integrity (continued)
 States that fail to meet standards for
  issuing their food stamp benefits correctly
  can be sanctioned by USDA, and those
  that exceed the standard for payment
  accuracy can be eligible for additional
  funding support.
 People who receive food stamp benefits in
  error must repay any benefits for which
  they did not qualify.
 Characteristics of Food Stamp
Base on a study of data gathered in Fiscal
Year 2003:
 51 percent of all participants are children
  (18 or younger), and 65 percent of them
  live in single-parent households.
 5 percent of food stamp households
  include children.
 9 percent of all participants are elderly
  (age 60 or over).
Characteristics of Food Stamp
Households (continued)
 79 percent of all benefits go to households
  with children, 16 percent go to households
  with disabled persons, 7 percent go to
  households with elderly persons.
 36 percent of households with children
  were headed by a single parent, the
  overwhelming majority of whom were
 Characteristics of Food Stamp
 Households (continued)
  The average household size is 2.3
  The average gross monthly income
   per food stamp household is $640.

41 percent of participants are white; 36 percent are
African-American, non-Hispanic; 18 percent are
Hispanic; 3 percent are Asian, 2 percent are Native
American, and 1 percent are unknown race or ethnicity.
  How many people get food
  stamps, and at what cost?
The Food Stamp Program served an average of 23.9
million people each month during Fiscal Year 2004, and
cost $27.2 billion for the year.
By comparison:
   In 2000, it served 17.2 million people a month and cost
    $17.1 billion.
   In 1995, it served 26.6 million people a month, and cost
    $24.6 billion.
   In 1990, it served 20.1 million people and cost $15.5
  How many people get food
  stamps, and at what cost? (continued)
   In 1985, it served 19.9 million people and cost
    $11.7 billion.
   In 1980, it served 21.1 million people and cost
    $9.2 billion.
   In 1975, it served 17.1 million people and cost
    $4.6 billion.
   In 1970, it served 4.3 million people and cost
    $577 million.
The program’s all-time high participation was 27.97
million people in March of 1994.
Other Versions of the Food
Stamp Program
 In Puerto Rico, the Food Stamp Program
  was replaced in 1982 by a block grant
  program, called the Nutrition Assistance
 The Commonwealth of the Northern
  Marianas Islands and American Samoa in
  the Pacific also operate under block
 The territories now provide cash or
  coupons to participants, rather than food
  stamps or food distribution.
Other Versions of the Food
Stamp Program (continued)
 The grant can also be used for
  administrative expenses related to food
  production and distribution.
 The cost for the block grant program in
  Puerto Rico, in FY 2004 was $1.413 billion.
 For the Northern Marianas and American
  Samoa the block grant programs in FY
  2004 cost $16.5 million.

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