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Encyclopedia > Food stamp

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The Food Stamp Program is a program that provides food to low income people living in the United States. Benefits are distributed by the individual states but the program is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, also called the Agriculture Department, or USDA, is a Cabinet department of the United States Federal Government. ...


Most food stamp benefits are now distributed using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards but for most of its history the program has used paper vouchers of some kind. Recent stamps look somewhat like Monopoly money and are enclosed in a book. They have been used illegally as a form of currency among the poor in informal barter and organized fraud. Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received. ... Monopoly is one of the best-selling commercial board games in the world. ...

Contents


History

The First Food Stamp Program (FSP) - May 16, 1939-Spring 1943

The idea for the first FSP has been credited to various people, most notably Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and the program's first administrator, Milo Perkins. Of the program, Perkins said, "We got a picture of a gorge, with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other. We set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm." The program operated by permitting people on relief to buy orange stamps equal to their normal food expenditures; for every $1 worth of orange stamps purchased, 50 cents worth of blue stamps were received. Orange stamps could be used to buy any food; blue stamps could only be used to buy food determined by the Department to be surplus. Over the course of nearly 4 years, the first FSP reached approximately 20 million people at one time or another in nearly half of the counties in the U.S. at a total cost of $262 million. At its peak, the program assisted 4 million people simultaneously. The first recipient was Mabel McFiggin of Rochester, New York; the first retailer to redeem the stamps was Joseph Mutolo; and the first retailer caught violating program rules was Nick Salzano in October 1939. The program ended when the conditions that brought the program into being (unmarketable food surpluses and widespread unemployment) no longer existed. May 16 is the 136th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (137th in leap years). ... 1939 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1943 is a common year starting on Friday. ... The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture concerned with land and food as well as agriculture and rural development. ... Henry Agard Wallace Henry Agard Wallace (October 7, 1888 – November 18, 1965) served as the 33rd [[Vice President of the United State Wallace was born on a farm near Orient, Adair County, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State College at Ames in 1910. ... There is also a Rochester in Ulster County, New York; for that town see Rochester, Ulster County, New York. ...


Pilot Food Stamp Program - May 29, 1961-1964

The 18 years between the end of the first FSP and the inception of the next were filled with studies, reports, and legislative proposals. Prominent Senators actively associated with attempts to enact a food stamp program during this period are: Aiken, La Follette, Humphrey, Kefauver, and Symington. From 1954 on, Congresswoman Leonor K. Sullivan strove unceasingly to pass food stamp program legislation. On September 21, 1959, P.L. 86-341 authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to operate a food stamp system through January 31, 1962. The Eisenhower Administration never used the authority. However, in fulfillment of a campaign promise made in West Virginia, President Kennedy's first Executive Order called for expanded food distribution and, on February 2, 1961, he announced that food stamp pilot programs would be initiated. The pilot programs would retain the requirement that the food stamps be purchased, but eliminated the concept of special stamps for surplus foods. A Department spokesman indicated the emphasis would be on increasing the consumption of perishables. May 29 is the 149th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (150th in leap years). ... 1961 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1964 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Hubert Horatio Humphrey II (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) was the 38th Vice President of the United States, twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota and was mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota. ... Estes Kefauver Carey Estes Kefauver (July 26, 1903 - August 10, 1963) was an American politician from Tennessee. ... 1954 was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 21 is the 264th day of the year (265th in leap years). ... 1959 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1962 was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Order: 34th President Vice President: Richard Nixon Term of office: January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961 Preceded by: Harry S. Truman Succeeded by: John F. Kennedy Date of birth: October 14, 1890 Place of birth: Denison, Texas Date of death: March 28, 1969 Place of death: Washington, D.C. First... State nickname: Mountain State Other U.S. States Capital Charleston Largest city Charleston Governor Joe Manchin (D) Official languages English Area 62,809 km² (41st)  - Land 62,436 km²  - Water 376 km² (0. ... Order: 35th President Vice President: Lyndon B. Johnson Term of office: January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963 Preceded by: Dwight D. Eisenhower Succeeded by: Lyndon B. Johnson Date of birth: May 29, 1917 Place of birth: Brookline, Massachusetts Date of death: November 22, 1963 Place of death: Dallas, Texas First... February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ...


Mr. and Mrs. Alderson Muncy of Paynesville, West Virginia, were the first food stamp recipients on May 29, 1961. They purchased US$95 in food stamps for their 15-person household. In the first food stamp transaction, they bought a can of pork and beans at Henderson's Supermarket. By January 1964, the pilot programs had expanded from eight areas to 43 (40 counties, Detroit, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh) in 22 States with 380,000 participants. May 29 is the 149th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (150th in leap years). ... 1961 was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the territorial city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Michigan Founded  -Incorporated July 24, 1701 1816  County Wayne County Mayor Kwame... The Gateway Arch, shown here behind the Old Courthouse, is the most recognizable part of the St. ... Nickname: The Steel City Location in Pennsylvania Founded  -Incorporated 1758   County Allegheny County Mayor Tom Murphy (Dem) Area  - Total  - Water 151. ...


Of the program, Congresswoman Leonor K. Sullivan asserted, "...the Department of Agriculture seemed bent on outlining a possible food stamp plan of such scope and magnitude, involving some 25 million persons, as to make the whole idea seem ridiculous and tear food stamp plans to smithereens."


Food Stamp Act of 1964 - August 31, 1964

On January 31, 1964, President Johnson requested Congress to pass legislation making the FSP permanent. Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman submitted proposed legislation to establish a permanent FSP on April 17, 1964. The bill eventually passed by Congress was H.R. 10222, introduced by Congresswoman Sullivan. One of the members on the House Committee on Agriculture who voted against the FSP in Committee was then Representative Bob Dole. As a Senator, Mr. Dole became a staunch supporter of the Program. Among the official purposes of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 were strengthening the agricultural economy and providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households; however, the practical purpose was to bring the pilot FSP under Congressional control and to enact the regulations into law. The major provisions were: January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908–January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician. ... Orville Freeman Orville Lothrop Freeman (May 9, 1918–February 20, 2003) was an American Democratic politician who served as the 29th Governor of Minnesota from January 5, 1955 to January 2, 1961 and as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1961 to 1969. ... April 17 is the 107th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (108th in leap years). ... The Congress of the United States is the legislative branch of the federal government of the United States of America. ... Bob Dole Robert Joseph Dole (born July 22, 1923) is best known as a former Republican United States Senate Majority Leader and Senator from Kansas. ...

  • the State Plan of Operation requirement and development of eligibility standards by States;
  • the requirement that recipients purchase their food stamps, paying an amount commensurate with their normal expenditures for food and receiving an amount of food stamps representing an opportunity more nearly to obtain a low-cost nutritionally adequate diet;
  • the eligibility for purchase with food stamps of all items intended for human consumption except alcoholic beverages and imported foods (the House version would have prohibited the purchase of soft drinks, luxury foods, and luxury frozen foods);
  • prohibitions against discrimination on bases of race, religious creed, national origin, or political beliefs;
  • the division of responsibilities between States (certification and issuance) and the Federal Government (funding of benefits and authorization of retailers and wholesalers), with shared responsibility for funding costs of administration; and
  • appropriations for the first year limited to $75 million; for the second year, to $100 million; and, for the third year, to $200 million.

The Agriculture Department estimated that participation in a national FSP would eventually reach 4 million, at a cost of $360 million annually.


Program Expansion - FSP Participation Milestones in the 1960s and Early 1970s.

In April 1965, participation topped half a million. (Actual participation was 561,261 people.) Participation topped 1 million in March 1966, 2 million in October 1967, 3 million in February 1969, 4 million in February 1970, 5 million one month later in March 1970, 6 million two months later in May 1970, 10 million in February 1971, and 15 million in October 1974. Rapid increases in participation during this period were primarily due to geographic expansion. 1965 was a common year starting on Friday (link goes to calendar). ... 1966 was a common year starting on Saturday (link goes to calendar) // Events January January 1 - In a coup, Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa ousts president David Dacko and takes over the Central African Republic. ... 1967 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1969 was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ... 1970 was a common year starting on Thursday. ... 1971 is a common year starting on Friday (click for link to calendar). ... 1974 is a common year starting on Tuesday (click on link for calendar). ...


Major Legislative Changes - Early 1970s

The early 1970s were a period of growth in participation; concern about the cost of providing food stamp benefits; and questions about administration, primarily timely certification. It was during this time that the issue was framed that would dominate food stamp legislation ever after: How to balance program access with program accountability? Three major pieces of legislation shaped this period leading up to massive reform to follow:


P.L. 91-671 (January 11, 1971) established uniform national standards of eligibility and work requirements; required that allotments be equivalent to the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet; limited households' purchase requirements to 30 percent of their income; instituted an outreach requirement; authorized the Agriculture Department to pay 62.5 percent of specific administrative costs incurred by States; expanded the FSP to Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands of the United States; and provided $1.75 billion appropriations for Fiscal Year 1971. January 11 is the 11th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ...


Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-86, Aug. 10, 1973) required States to expand the program to every political jurisdiction before July 1, 1974; expanded the program to drug addicts and alcoholics in treatment and rehabilitation centers; established semi-annual allotment adjustments, SSI cash-out, and bi-monthly issuance; introduced statutory complexity in the income definition (by including in-kind payments and providing an accompanying exception); and required the Department to establish temporary eligibility standards for disasters.


P.L. 93-347 (July 12, 1974) authorized the Department to pay 50 percent of all States' costs for administering the program and established the requirement for efficient and effective administration by the States. July 12 is the 193rd day (194th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 172 days remaining. ...


1974 Nationwide Program

In accordance with P.L. 93-86, the FSP began operating Nationwide on July 1, 1974. (The program was not fully implemented in Puerto Rico until November 1, 1974.) Participation for July 1974 was almost 14 million. July 1 is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 183 days remaining. ... November 1 is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 60 days remaining. ...


The Food Stamp Act of 1977

Both the outgoing Republican Administration and the new Democratic Administration offered Congress proposed legislation to reform the FSP in 1977. The Republican bill stressed targeting benefits to the neediest, simplifying administration, and tightening controls on the program; the Democratic bill focused on increasing access to those most in need and simplifying and streamlining a complicated and cumbersome process that delayed benefit delivery as well as reducing errors, and curbing abuse. The chief force for the Democratic Administration was Robert Greenstein, Administrator of FNS; in Congress, major players were Senators McGovern, Javits, Humphrey, and Dole and Congressmen Foley and Richmond. Amidst all the themes, the one that became the rallying cry for FSP reform was "EPR" -- eliminate the purchase requirement -- because of the barrier to participation the purchase requirement represented. The bill that became the law (S. 275) did eliminate the purchase requirement. It also: 1977 was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1977 calendar). ... George McGovern. ... Jacob Koppel Javits (May 18, 1904–March 7, 1986) was an American politician. ...

  • eliminated categorical eligibility;
  • established statutory income eligibility guidelines at the poverty line;
  • established 10 categories of excluded income;
  • reduced the number of deductions used to calculate net income and established a standard deduction to take the place of eliminated deductions;
  • raised the general resource limit to $1,750;
  • established the fair market value (FMV) test for evaluating vehicles as resources;
  • penalized households whose heads voluntarily quit jobs;
  • restricted eligibility for students and aliens;
  • eliminated the requirement that households must have cooking facilities;
  • replaced store due bills with cash change up to 99 cents;
  • established the principle that stores must sell a substantial amount of staple foods if they are to be authorized;
  • established the ground rules for Indian Tribal Organization administration of the FSP on reservations; and
  • introduced demonstration project authority.

In addition to EPR, the Food Stamp Act of 1977 included several access provisions:

  • using mail, telephone, or home visits for certification;
  • requirements for outreach, bilingual personnel and materials, and nutrition education materials;
  • recipients' right to submit applications the first day they attempt to do so;
  • 30-day processing standard and inception of the concept of expedited service;
  • SSI joint processing and coordination with AFDC;
  • notice, recertification, and retroactive benefit protections; and
  • a requirement for States to develop a disaster plan.

The integrity provisions of the new program included fraud disqualifications, enhanced Federal funding for States' anti-fraud activities, and financial incentives for low error rates.


The House Report for the 1977 legislation points out that the changes in the Food Stamp Program are needed without reference to upcoming welfare reform since "the path to welfare reform is, indeed, rocky...."


EPR was implemented January 1, 1979. Participation that month increased 1.5 million over the preceding month. January 1 is the first day of the calendar year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. ... 1979 is a common year starting on Monday. ...


Cutbacks of the Early 1980s

The large and expensive FSP proved to be a favorite came under close scrutiny of both the Executive Branch and Congress in the early 1980s. Major legislation in 1981 and 1982 enacted cutbacks including: 1981 is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1982 is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

  • addition of a gross income eligibility test in addition to the net income test for most households;
  • temporary freeze on adjustments of the shelter deduction cap and the standard deduction and constraints on future adjustments;
  • annual adjustments in food stamp allotments rather than semi-annual;
  • consideration of non-elderly parents who live with their children and non-elderly siblings who live together as one household;
  • required periodic reporting and retrospective budgeting;
  • prohibition against using Federal funds for outreach;
  • replacing the FSP in Puerto Rico with a block grant for nutrition assistance;
  • counting retirement accounts as resources;
  • State option to require job search of applicants as well as participants; and
  • increased disqualification periods for voluntary quitters.

Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) began in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 1984. Reading (pronounced red - ing) is the county seat of Berks County, Pennsylvania. ... 1984 is a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Mid- to Late 1980s

Recognition of the severe domestic hunger problem in the latter half of the 1980s led to incremental improvements in the FSP in 1985 and 1987, such as elimination of sales tax on food stamp purchases, reinstitution of categorical eligibility, increased resource limit for most households ($2,000), eligibility for the homeless, and expanded nutrition education. The Hunger Prevention Act of 1988 and the Mickey Leland Memorial Domestic Hunger Relief Act in 1990 foretold the improvements that would be coming. The 1988 and 1990 legislation accomplished the following: 1985 is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1987 is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1988 is a leap year starting on a Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1990 is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

  • increasing benefits by applying a multiplication factor to Thrifty Food Plan costs;
  • making outreach an optional activity for States;
  • excluding advance earned income tax credits as income;
  • simplifying procedures for calculating medical deductions;
  • instituting periodic adjustments of the minimum benefit;
  • authorizing nutrition education grants;
  • establishing severe penalties for violations by individuals or participating firms; and
  • establishing EBT as an issuance alternative.

Throughout this era, significant players were principally various committee chairmen: Congressmen Leland, Hall, Foley, Panetta, and de la Garza and Senator Leahy. Patrick Joseph Leahy (born March 31, 1940) is the senior United States Senator from Vermont. ...


1993 Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act

By 1993, major changes in food stamp benefits had arrived. The final legislation provided for $2.8 billion in benefit increases over Fiscal Years 1984-1988. Leon Panetta, in his new role as OMB Director, played a major role as did Senator Leahy. Substantive changes included: 1993 is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...

  • eliminating the shelter deduction cap beginning January 1, 1997;
  • providing a deduction for legally binding child support payments made to nonhousehold members;
  • raising the cap on the dependent care deduction from $160 to $200 for children under 2 years old and $175 for all other dependents;
  • improving employment and training (E&T) dependent care reimbursements;
  • increasing the FMV test for vehicles to $4,550 on September 1, 1994 and $4,600 on October 1, 1995, then annually adjusting the value from $5,000 on October 1, 1996;
  • mandating asset accumulation demonstration projects; and
  • simplifying the household definition.

January 1 is the first day of the calendar year in both the Julian and Gregorian calendars. ... September 1 is the 244th day of the year (245th in leap years). ... 1994 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International year of the Family. ... October 1 is the 274th day of the year (275th in Leap years). ... 1995 was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1996 is a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty. ...

Later Participation Milestones

In December 1979, participation finally surpassed 20 million. In March 1994, participation hit a new high of 28 million.


The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996

The mid-1990s was a period of welfare reform. Many states had waivers of the rules for the cash welfare program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) before major welfare reform legislation was enacted in 1996. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) removed the entitlement of recipients to AFDC and replaced that with a new block grant to states called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).


Although the Food Stamp Program was reauthorized in the 1996 Farm Bill, major changes to the program were enacted through PRWORA. Among them were:

  • eliminating eligibility of most legal immigrants to food stamps;
  • placing a time limit on food stamp receipt of three out of 36 months for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who are not working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a work program;
  • reduction in maximum allotments by setting them at 100 percent of the change in the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) from 103 percent of the change in the TFP;
  • freezing the standard deduction, the vehicle limit, and the minimum benefit;
  • setting the shelter cap at graduated specified levels up to $300 by fiscal year 2001, and permitting States to make use of the standard utility allowance mandatory;
  • revising provisions for disqualification, including comparable disqualification with other means-tested programs; and
  • requiring States to implement EBT before October 1, 2002.

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) and the Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Act of 1998 (AREERA) made some changes to these provisions, most significantly: October 1 is the 274th day of the year (275th in Leap years). ... 2002 is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1998 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ...

  • additional Employment and Training (E&T) funds targeted toward providing work program opportunities for ABAWDs;
  • allowing States to exempt up to 15 percent of the estimated number of ABAWDs who would otherwise be ineligible;
  • restoring eligibility for certain elderly, disabled and child immigrants who resided in the United States when PRWORA was enacted; and
  • cutting administrative funding for States to account for certain administrative costs that previously had been allocated to the AFDC program and now were required to be allocated to the Food Stamp Program.

The fiscal year 2001 agriculture appropriations bill included two significant changes to the Food Stamp Program. The legislation increased the excess shelter cap to $340 in fiscal year 2001 and then indexed the cap to changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Consumers each year beginning in fiscal year 2002. The legislation also allowed States to use the vehicle limit they use in a TANF assistance program, if it would be result in a lower attribution of resources for the household. 2001: A Space Odyssey 2001 2001 is a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Farm Bill of 2002

Participation declined throughout the late 1990s, even more so than expected based on the changes in PRWORA and falling unemployment. Program access and simplification of program rules were a major focus of proposed legislation and of major regulations promulgated by the Department. In May 2002, the Food Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 was enacted, including reauthorization of the Food Stamp Program. Major changes to food stamps included:

  • restoration of eligibility for food stamps to qualified aliens who have been in the United States at least five years;
  • restoration of eligibility for immigrants receiving certain disability payments and for children, regardless of how long they have been the country;
  • adjusting the standard deduction to vary by household size and indexed each year for inflation;
  • reforming the quality control (QC) system by basing financial sanctions on consecutive years of high error rate;
  • replacing enhanced funding for States with low error rates with a performance bonus system based on several different measures of performance;
  • providing States with several options to simplify the program, including aligning the definition of income and/or resources to that used in TANF or Medicaid, adopting a simplified reporting system, and providing transitional benefits for clients leaving TANF;
  • cutting E&T funding while eliminating the requirements of targeting those funds toward ABAWDs; and
  • eliminating the cost neutrality requirement for EBT systems.

Food stamp participation began to increase in fiscal year 2001 and has continued to rise through the beginning of fiscal year 2003. The Department continues to work with States to implement the various provisions of the Farm Bill, through guidance and regulations. 2003 is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Reference

  • Article based on the USDA Web publication: A Short History of the Food Stamp Program

  Results from FactBites:
 
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The Federal Food Stamp Act of 1964 (PDF) (http://www.fns.usda.gov/fsp/rules/Legislation/pdfs/act2.pdf) is the most significant food plan in the United States.
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Food stamp participation began to increase in fiscal year 2001 and has continued to rise through the beginning of fiscal year 2003.
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