CA Food Stamp Recipients On The Rise

Daniellle BrownNot only is the number of Californians participating in the state?s federally funded food stamp program increasing, but the number of eligible recipients is decreasing, according to state and federal data.

California for years has lagged behind the rest of the country in terms of participation. Tied for 48th in 2013, only 66 percent of those eligible participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, called CalFresh in California.

The pool of Californians who are eligible for the program is shrinking. While the pool has increased from 6.36 million in 2010 to 6.98 million in 2014, it has decreased from a peak of 7.17 million in 2013, according to CalFresh estimates?based on Census data.

?The good news in California is we?re going in the right direction on both lines,? said Kim McCoy Wade, chief of the CalFresh branch of the California Department of Social Services.

Outreach

For years, outreach methods, internal procedures and state policy kept the rate low, said Wade, adding the nature of California played a role too.

?We?re a very big, diverse, complicated state, so sometimes we move forward in one county and then have to take longer to move forward in another,? Wade said.??We?re not in Idaho, where you can change your call center process and all of the sudden the whole state is dramatically better.?

Wade said the state is studying whether a language/information barrier and a distrust of government among ethnic groups played a role in the low participation rates.

?We really think it?s time for a fresh look to see if immigrant communities are connecting to CalFresh, and if not, why not,? Wade said.

ACA impact

In recent years, the?implementation of the Affordable Care Act hindered the process as well, in that the tsunami?of new people entering the system took time to process, with so much of the state?s efforts aimed at sorting it all out. But as a result of the flood of people entering the system,?CalFresh had better access to families to let them know their options.

?The Affordable Care Act was both the best thing that ever happened to low-income families in California and a real challenge,? Wade said.

Increased participation

In 2015, there was approximately 4.4 million people in the CalFresh program, receiving more than $7 billion in benefits annually. That?s compared?to?2005, when there were about 2 million Californians receiving more than $2 billion in annual benefits.

Eligibility is for those less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line, which is an annual income of $24,300 for a family of four.

The average benefit is $142 per person per month, according to federal data.

Additional data can be found in a?Public Policy Institute of California study published this month.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Gov?t Shutdown Could Mean No Food Stamps For Millions

The Obama Administration warned Tuesday a government shutdown would mean 46 million people losing their food stamps. This despite a similar claim in 2011 being proven false.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the problem is a lack of reserve money. The USDA runs the food stamp program. It is officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If the government shuts down, the USDA claims, it will have to end benefits within the first several days of October.

?If Congress does not act to avert a lapse in appropriations, then USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October,? Catherine Cochran, a spokeswoman for USDA, told The Associated Press. ?Once that occurs, families won?t be able to use these benefits at grocery stores to buy the food their families need.?

Cochran refused to give details on how exactly the automatic food stamp payments would stop, or why it continued unabated during the 2013 shut down. The dangling of benefits in front of a shut down is not a new occurrence under the Obama administration.?According to Politifact, in 2011 President Barack Obama lied when he warned Social Security checks would not be sent out if the government shut down.

A dispute on whether to defund Planned Parenthood is the main issue which threatens to shutdown the government. Lawmakers have till the first of October to pass a budget. If they don?t, the federal government will run out of funds and have to shutdown.

House Republicans passed a budget proposal?Sept. 18 which would cutoff funds to Planned Parenthood for a year. The proposal looks unlikely to pass the Senate and even less likely to be signed by President Barack Obama. If the House proposal or an alternative doesn?t pass, the government shuts down.

The move to defund Planned Parenthood comes with renewed criticism over how the group handles abortions. The debate centers around a video?The Center for Medical Progress, a right-of-center medical ethics group, published that shows?a Planned Parenthood employee casually discussing, over a salad, how the organization harvest fetus organs after an abortion. The video was just the first in a series of footage that prompted a national backlash. This included renewed calls to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The footage was?part of a 3-year investigative effort. Dr. Deborah Nucatola talked to undercover actors she thought were buyers from a human biologics company.

Supporters of Planned Parenthood claim the videos were misleading and politically motivated. They also argue the organization offers too many critical services for women and families to be defunded.

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

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Why Food Stamps Usage Is Up Despite Poverty Being Down

SNAPFood stamp use?has increased nearly 300 percent nationwide since 2014, despite a drop in the poverty rate, according to a report released Wednesday by The Foundation for Government Accountability.

?Even though poverty rates are declining, the number of people receiving food stamps continues to climb,??the report detailed. ?Food stamp spending is growing ten times as fast as federal revenues.?

According to their report????Restoring Work Requirements Will Help Solve the Food Stamp Crisis? ? the problem results from less restrictive eligibility requirements.

The United States Department of Agriculture is the main agency in charge of?the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.?According to its own findings, SNAP has?increased from 17 million participants in 2000 to nearly 47 million in 2014.?Concurrently, work requirements were waived in many states.

?Federal law generally limits food stamp eligibility for non-disabled childless adults to just three months out of any three-year period unless they meet specified work requirements,? the report also noted. ?These work requirements have become irrelevant in recent years, however, as states have been given waivers to exempt able-bodied adults from federal work requirements.?

The Obama administration had granted working requirement waivers to 40 states and partial waivers to another six states. As a result more states are providing food stamp benefits to more adults who don?t work despite not having physical disabilities preventing them from doing so.

?By 2013, a record-high 4.9 million able-bodied, childless adults were receiving food stamps,? the report continued. ?Federal spending on food stamps for able-bodied adults skyrocketed to more than $10 billion in 2013, up from just $462 million in 2000.?

The size of the program alone has prompted concern among?among many lawmakers. Some on the state and federal level have tried reforming the program by getting work requirements back or adding additional eligibility requirements. In July, the administration for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker sued the USDA after the agency informed the state it?could not drug-test those on food stamps. Walker is currently running for the Republican nomination for president.

?The way forward for states could not be more simple or clear,? the report concluded. ?Governors should decline to renew the federal waivers that have eliminated work requirements for able-bodied childless adults on food stamps.?

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation