The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act continues to help families, the elderly, the unemployed and children across the country. The Act provided for an increase in monthly benefits for USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. ARRA money provides participating families of four, for instance, an additional $80 each month to purchase nutritious food.
This increase in nutrition assistance and access to SNAP has both reduced the adverse affects of the economic downturn and stemmed a rising tide of hunger in American families. Michigan is one state that has been particularly hard hit, so the increase in benefits has made a difference across the State—in the metro area of Detroit, smaller towns and rural areas.
“Improving the nutrition and health of all Americans is a top priority for the Obama Administration. SNAP is an integral part of the national nutrition safety net,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “SNAP is now serving over 40 million low-income Americans each month proving that never before in history have our nutrition programs been more critical. SNAP is an important contribution to fighting hunger and provides needed resources to communities.”
ARRA increased benefits for recipients of SNAP and provided nearly $300 million to help States administer SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. SNAP also provides a significant boost to local economies. For every $5 in new SNAP benefits, as much as $9.20 is generated in total economic activity.
“By injecting immediate revenue streams into local business, SNAP helps accomplish another primary goal of ARRA by stimulating the American economy,” said Concannon. “Every time a family uses SNAP benefits to put healthy food on the table, it benefits the store and the employees where the purchase was made, the truck driver who delivered the food, the warehouses that stored it, the plant that processed it, and the farmer who produced the food in the first place.”
ARRA increased the maximum allotments of SNAP participants by 13.6 percent and also eased eligibility requirements for childless adults without jobs in recognition of the difficult job climate.
In Michigan, a number of residents have been positively affected by ARRA. The State has seen an increase in participation of over 20 percent, and the following stories provide a snapshot of some of the positive effects of ARRA.
Michigan resident Patricia Magee, 64, suffers from a debilitating neurological disease. Always an economical shopper, ARRA-stimulated food assistance supplements the disability insurance and SSI she receives, better equipping her to purchase healthy food items.
And single parent Yolanda Walker recently lost her job during a series of layoffs at Bosch Corporation. Yolanda is grateful for ARRA because it helps her feed her two children while she furthers her education and cares for her father.
Finally, Tonya King is an 18-year-old young adult who recently aged out of the foster care system. An active participant with the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative, she will soon start drivers training and continues to look for employment. In the meantime, SNAP help her access nutritious meals daily.
SNAP—and ARRA—have helped put healthy food on the table for these and the over 1.8 million Michigan residents who currently participate in the program.