Reducing the Stigma of Food Stamps

Articles
May 28, 2010

Reducing the Stigma of Food Stamps

Over 40 million people are currently receiving food stamps at a cost of $73 billion a year - an all time high in the country's history.

Over 40 million people are currently receiving food stamps at a cost of $73 billion a year - an all time high in the country's history. Unemployment is the worst it's been in 30 years. Supporters of the food stamp program, now called SNAP,  say that this is temporary and related to the economic downturn over the last two year's. Ambassador Eric Bost told Fox News that children make up 49 percent of those on food stamps, ten percent are elderly, and a large majority are people with jobs that don't make enough money to provide food for their families. 

With so many Americans receiving food assistance, the government is now encouraging more retailers to not only accept food stamps, but to make sure these shoppers are welcomed and shown appreciation for their business. Now called SNAP, an acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Program, designed to reduce the stigma associated with "food stamps, the government program would like retailers to even post signs in their stores welcoming SNAP benefits. 

Participants in the SNAP program are issued an EBT card that works just like a bank debit card. With the card, they can buy any food except alcohol, pet food, or heated foods. In addition, seeds and plants to grow food are covered. Shoppers simply scan the EBT card and enter a pin number. The amount is deducted form their allowance just like a checking account. EBT cards do not cover soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, tobacco, or anything else that is not food.

There are many Americans that have recently lost jobs and have never been in such desperate times where they had to sign up for government assistance. For some it is emotionally difficult, and some are concerned about prejudice in stores. 

Retailers can help by encouraging shoppers on food assistance that they can feel comfortable using SNAP benefits in their stores. In the end, they will build trust and loyalty in their shoppers. These people will in turn remain customers for life even when they get back on their feet and discontinue government food assistance.