The Department of Agriculture recently released data showing that the number of food stamp recipients declined by more than two million people.
The number of participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, generally known as food stamps, dropped from 44,219,363 to 42,182,443 for fiscal year 2017, Fox News reported.
USDA historical data show that participation has declined recently, even though the program expanded over time. The peak program participation was in 2013, when 47,636,000 individuals benefited from the program.
In 2017, the program cost tax payers about $58 billion, and each individual received an average of $125.05 and households received an average of $252.55 per month.
The program under Richard Nixon in 1969 cost taxpayers $250 million for about 2.8 million recipients.
In 2013, about 48 million people received food stamps, which cost tax payers over $79 billion during Barack Obama’s presidency.
The number of households receiving food stamps declined in 2017 as well from 21,777,938 to 20,886,012.
The flourishing economy has contributed to this decline in food stamp participation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average blew through the 25,000 point mark for the first time in its 121-year history in early trading earlier this week.
The market is being bolstered by early jobs numbers released by the payroll company ADP showing the economy added 250,000 jobs in December.
CNN Money reported, “The U.S. economy is very healthy, especially compared with the slow recovery from the Great Recession. Unemployment hasn’t been this low in 17 years. Economic growth is the best in three years. Equally important, most major world economies are growing at the same time for the first time in several years.”
At the end of November, USDA issued new guidance that would allow private-sector employees to give information to certify for food stamp benefits, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
“The flexibility is a positive step toward enhancing customer service and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “I encourage all states with an interest in this new flexibility to consider this change in policy, especially states looking for better ways to align their operations across multiple programs.”
According to the acting undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services Brandon Lipps, participation in food stamps will continue to decline as the economy continues to improve.
“The goal of the SNAP program is to support families in need as they strive to attain self-sufficiency. SNAP was established as a temporary supplemental nutrition benefit guiding people to self-sufficiency and self-reliance, not a permanent way of life,” he said according to the Free Beacon. “The Congressional Budget Office estimates that SNAP participation will drop by about 1.3 million people each year over the next 10 years as the economy continues to strengthen.”
President Donald Trump has said that he wants to tighten SNAP eligibility rules and have states contribute matching funds for the program to continue to reduce the number of food stamp recipients, according to Governing.
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