Dispelling SNAP Myths
The Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a longstanding and effective anti-hunger program that supported 479,000 hungry Minnesotans in 2016. There are several myths surrounding this important safety net program that threaten its existence as we know it today.
Below are five common myths dispelled:
MYTH: SNAP is welfare.
FACT: SNAP is a federal entitlement program. This means anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. You will not be taking away benefits from someone else if you apply. It is designed to help individuals and families buy nutritious food when money’s tight.
MYTH: SNAP benefits provide more food than people need.
FACT: SNAP is a supplemental program, it does not provide funding for all the food an individual or family needs. Every household is expected to spend about 30 percent of their income on food. The amount of benefits available depends on the number of people in the household and their income.
MYTH: SNAP is too costly and does not add to the economy.
FACT: Because most households redeem their monthly SNAP benefits quickly, SNAP is one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus during a downturn. SNAP benefits pumped about $603 million into Minnesota’s economy in 2016. It is estimated that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity.
MYTH: People who receive SNAP benefits do not work.
FACT: In Minnesota more than 50% are working families whose income still qualifies them for benefits. People utilizing SNAP most often work and only use SNAP for a limited time, while money is tight due to a job loss or an unexpected health crisis. Overwhelmingly, most SNAP beneficiaries are disabled adults, seniors and children.
MYTH: People who utilize SNAP benefits make less healthy choices than people who do not utilize SNAP.
FACT: The Food and Nutrition Service finds that people who receive SNAP benefits spend about the same amount of money on unhealthy foods as people who do not receive SNAP benefits. For example, studies have found that SNAP participants are no more or less likely to consume sugary beverages than low-income non-participants, and their overall diets are not significantly different in terms of quality of nutrition. SNAP benefits cannot be used on fast food or prepared food items.
As Congress pursues an agenda focused on reducing federal government spending, including the possibility of reforming our nation’s safety net programs, we hope these decisions are driven by the facts. SNAP continues to serve as an effective safety net for those who need it.