“I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing,”
Since President Obama became President in January 2009, nearly 14 million additional Americans were receiving food stamps as of May 2011. This number represents a 43% increase over the period, and includes nearly 15% of the total U.S. population.
In fact, the number of people receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is increasing at a rate of 475,000 people a month, nearly 1.6x the rate at which the level of assistance increased for President Bush from October 2007 to December 2008, the earliest monthly data available on the USDA site.
One might argue that the primary reason the number of food stamp recipients has risen is because of a terrible economy. While it is true that a weak economy has played a role in this increase, it only tells part of the story.
The fact is that President Obama’s policies have allowed more people than ever to qualify for food stamps, including those outside the traditional low-income demographic. The program used to be limited to 3 months in a 3-year period for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) “who were not working, participating in, and complying with the requirements of a work program for 20 hours or more each week, or a workfare program.”
However, President Obama, and the then-Democratically controlled Congress expanded the program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more popularly known as the “Stimulus Bill”, to ABAWDs:
“Beginning April 1, 2009, and extending through FY 2010, SNAP benefits of Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) will not be limited under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 unless an individual does not comply with the requirements of a program offered by the State agency that meets standards contained in the Act.”
According to The Daily Caller, the USDA is “pushing to regional SNAP offices to ease eligibility requirements and forgo checking people’s financial situations before providing benefits.”
Now, college students, regardless of their parents’ income, are increasingly enrolling in the program. According to The New York Times, in Massachusetts, “the number of college students receiving food stamps increased 27 percent from January 2008 to January 2009.” One student lamented, that it was food stamps, “or eat 99-cent boxes of Ramen and essentially starve.”
I lived off Ramen in college, as prior generations lived off SpaghettiOs and Spam.
Policies have consequences.
President Obama’s food stamp policy has helped expand a multi-billion dollar entitlement program from 31 to 46 million Americans, at a time when the country is running record deficits.