Republicans want to change the food stamp program.

Saturday, March 14, 2015 - 6:15am


What are food stamps?
Food stamps are a federal government program. They help poor families buy food.
Person buying food. Can show an EBT card but avoid the term "EBT".
About one person in six gets food stamps.
Show people, and indicate 15% of them -- 1 in six, or 2 in 12, or 3 in 18. Maybe they're carrying a bag of groceries.
About 47 million people use food stamps.
Indicate 47 million people buying food with EBT cards
Each person who uses food stamps gets about $133 each month to buy food.
Show one person getting $133.
All together, food stamps cost about $77 billion each year.
Another name for food stamps is "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program", or "SNAP".
How do food stamps work now?
Right now, the federal government decides who is eligible for food stamps.
Indicate federal government -- e.g. Washington DC or Congress
You can see the rules here.
The federal government gives money to each state based on the number of people who use food stamps.
Indicate congress giving money to several states.
If more people use food stamps in a state, the federal government gives the state more money.
Show states with more poor people getting more money
If fewer people in a state use food stamps, the federal government gives the state less money.
Show states with fewer poor people getting less money.
What do Republicans want to change?
Republicans want to change food stamps into a "block grant" program.
Show federal government giving money to each state; maybe money is in a "block"
This means that each state will get a specific amount of money.
Show state with more poor people getting the same amount of money.
The state will get the same amount of money, even if more people in the state become poor.
Show state with fewer poor people getting the same amount of money.
Each state would decide how to distribute food stamps.
Show each state distributing money to its own people. Some people get more, some get less.
Each state could have different rules for who can get food stamps.
In one state, everybody gets the same amount. In another state, some get more and some get none.
Also, Republicans want to reduce the total amount of money for food stamps.
Show federal government handing out less money to each state.
They want to cut about $12 billion each year from the program.
Why do Republicans think this is a good idea?
Republicans think that it's a good idea to let each state make its own rules.
"It's just a better way to give flexibility" -- Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina
The more you manage something far away, the more costly and less efficient it becomes." -- Graham
Why do Democrats think this is a bad idea?
Democrats say that, under the Republican plan, if more people in a state become poor, there will be less money to go around.
"It's giving them less resources, which you know will not be enough."
-- Margarette Purvis, president of Food Bank For New York City
"It is an efficient program. It's unfortunate that this kind of thinking would still be in play." -- Purvis
"When the economy is weak, the program expands to respond to need"
-- Stacy Dean, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities' vice president for food assistance policy.
"When the economy improves, the program shrinks."
-- Dean
"Chaing to block grants reduces the program’s economic responsiveness."
-- Dean