by Michael D. Tanner
October 16, 2013
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the food assistance program formerly known as food stamps, has become America’s fastest growing social welfare program. Today, roughly 48 million Americans receive SNAP benefits, costing taxpayers more than $78 billion per year. Yet according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), nearly 18 million American households remain “food insecure.” The evidence suggests that much of the increase is due not to the economy but to deliberate policy choices by both federal and state governments, which loosened eligibility standards and actively sought new participants. SNAP is a deeply troubled program. It has high administrative costs and significant levels of fraud and abuse. The program’s work requirements are weak and frequently evaded at the state level. The time has come to reform the food stamp program by reducing its spending and enrollment and, ultimately, by returning responsibility for its operation to the states.