The Principles of the Food Stamp Program for the Low Income Americans

Categories: Food

This essay picked the subtitle A: Food Stamp Program to discuss, and pay more attention on Renaming of Food Stamp Act and Program, Strengthening the Food Purchasing Power of Low Income Americans, and Issuance and Use of Program Benefit.


Indeed, the primary goals of Food Stamp Act and Program is to increase food security and reduce hunger by increasing access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education for low income Americans. According to the subtitle and section, we are concerned with, and it is in efforts to fight the poverty stigma of welfare recipients.

This Act changed the name of the Federal program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and changed the name of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. States maintained flexibility to call the program on their own but were encouraged to change the name to SNAP or another alternate name. At the Section 4001 Renaming of Food Stamp Act and Program, the general description part pointed out that “The food and nutrition act of 2008 is amended by striking “food stamp program,” and inserting “supplemental nutrition assistance program”.

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” Past decades the food stamp program brought many stereotype of welfare recipients, and the government thought this name change scheme could be an alternative to fight the poverty stigma problem.


The primary objective of the SNAP is to diminish the economic hardship and let these eligible low-income households obtain basic needs of food and get more nutritious diet. The government gave them benefits to purchase food through domestic food grocery and stores.

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Past decades food stamp recipients use the coupon vouchers to obtain food. When these low-income population used the coupon to buy food, cashiers and other clients are easy to figured out that these people using food stamp coupon are living in poverty. It increased the feeling of shame among food stamp recipients and might be likely to cause other mental issues for them as well. Hence, in this subtitle A, one of the primary objectives is to diminish the stigma on impoverished population.

Allocation: to Whom are Benefit Offered?

The eligibility of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) does not show on the Subtitle A: Food Stamp Program, but we can find the eligibility of SNAP according to another part of Act and research materials. Regarding the eligibility for SNAP beyond the time limit, recipients must either work or participate in a qualifying education or training activity for at least 80 hours per month. And households must also meet other conditions in addition to the income and resource requirements, such as everyone in your household has, or have applied for, a social security number. Additionally, SNAP also benefits lawfully present non-citizen and meet the income and resource limits, but most eligible non-citizens must wait five years before getting SNAP benefits. If recipient’s children are lawfully present or U.S. citizens, these children may still qualify for SNAP benefits even if their parents/guardians are not eligible. Recipients can apply for recipient’s children without providing information about their immigration status. Based on above description, the type of eligibility is means-test. In other words, the allocation of SNAP is selective principle rather than universal. Indeed, the means-test and selective opinion cause the stigma apparently.

Titmuss (2000) pointed out that poor quality selective services for poor people were the project of a society which as welfare as a residual, and see those poor people as the public burden. Therefore, this subtitle of SNAP mainly solves the possible stigma, but the innate character of this Act is the main reason why cause the stigma problem. Policymakers should consider fully any other alternatives could solve the stigma problem, such as the universal basic income scheme.

Provision: What benefit are Offered?

There are many types of provision, including material goods and commodity, cash, expert service, positive discrimination, credits/vouchers, subsidies, government guarantees, protective regulation, and power over decision. According to Section 4115 “Issuance and Use of Program Benefit”, the document showed this Act was engaged in solving the stigma from Previous Food Stamp Act. It changed the type of provision from coupon voucher to Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). And it prohibited the name of any public official shall not appear on any Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Regarding the EBT voucher, social benefits in the form of vouchers possess a unique attraction, which is to preserve consumer choice while allowing a degree of social control. The voucher ensures that benefits serve a vital public purpose. Chambers and Bonk (2002) further pointed out that credits and vouchers are prepayments to a purveyor of profits and services. This kind of payment to a merchant (grocery store) by a welfare recipient is the economic equivalent of a dollar the merchant receives from anyone else. However, under vouchers, there is a very possibility that substantial portions of our most vulnerable populations will be labeled as a specific group, which could have a lethal effect upon our already fraying social cohesion. Hence, we see that the subtle improvement from this Act tried to minimize the stigmatization and possible harm from this welfare system.

Delivery: How are benefit Delivered?

According to the classification of delivering system (Chambers & Bonk, 2012), there are six types of delivery system, including centralized delivery, client-centered management, federated service delivery organizations, case management service delivery system, the client controlled organization as a delivery system, and privatization of delivery system. The SNAP is that USDA’s Food and Consumer Service (FCS) regional offices monitor State agencies to ensure the adequacy of their administration. States are responsible for determining the eligibility of needy persons to participate in nutrition assistance programs, as well as the delivery of services.

Finance: How are benefit Financed?

There are several funding sources for social welfare based on different policy values and goals, such as private market place, employee benefit, social insurance, public/government funding, and Federal government appropriations and reimbursement. Particularly the Federal government appropriations and reimbursement, it can be classified in categorical grants, block grants, unfunded policies, federalism and devolution, and privatization. SNAP belongs to categorical grants. The categorical grants use a formula to determine the federal financial match of state dollars typically based on population, per capita income, and the population at risk. State plan designates a single state agency to receive federal funding and administer the program or supervise local government administration. Moreover, categorical grants have a strict definition of program category, entitlement and extensive federal rules and regulations on how the funds are to be spent. Amount of federal funding based on reimbursement of entitled benefits or services provided.

In sum, the SNAP is one means-test and selective welfare scheme. And because of the evolving from the Food Stamp Program, its policy was built on individual perspective. Individualism perspective believes the cost of effective is an appropriate allocation. Additionally, individualism viewpoint emphasized freedom of choice, prefer the freedom of dissent and local autonomy. Under this point of view, the SNAP tried to solve the stigmatization, but it suffers many difficulties from its origin of policymaking.

Value of Distributive Justice

What extent does the policy achieve distributive justice? At this level of generality three core values shape the design of policy: equality, equity, and adequacy.


Gilbert and Terrell (2002) argued that this is the basic principle in distributive justice. There are two kinds of equality, Numerical equality and Proportional Equality, which are also from the philosophy ideology of egalitarian and meritarian. Numerical equality implies the same treatment of everyone- to all an equal share. Proportional equality implies the same treatment of similar persons — to each according to his or her merit or virtue. Social welfare policy is influenced by the value of equality with regard to the outcome of benefit allocations. This equality value is predominant. In the SNAP example, for having basic living condition among low-income population, the influence of the equality goal is also evident in the extent to which money is shifted from wealthy population toward those that are poor.


Based on Gilbert and Terrell’s argument (2002), the Equity denotes a conventional sense of fair treatment. There is a proportional quality to notions of fair treatment—if you do half the work, you deserve half the reward. And this value tremendously influences American social welfare policy. In the SNAP’s eligibility, we can see that recipients must either work or participate in a qualifying education or training activity for at least 80 hours per month. Namely, citizens have the right to get welfare if they suffer difficulties and poverty, but they also have the responsibility to work and engaged in leaving poverty status.


Adequacy refers to the desirability of providing a good standard of physical and spiritual well-being, quite apart from concerns for whether benefit allocations are equal or differentiated according to merit. Additionally, standards of adequacy vary according to time and circumstances. Regarding SNAP, “the Section 4102 Strengthening the Food Purchasing Power of Low-Income Americans ” raised the primary benefit. Additionally, it emphasized that each fiscal year should adjust to the nearest lower dollar increment to reflect changes for the 12-month period ending on the preceding June 30 in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the Department of Labor (P.L. 110-246, 2008).

Social/economic Indicator(s) on the Objectives on the socioeconomic behavior or well-being of a target population. There are several types of policy analysis, such as comparative analysis, historical analysis, and evaluation analysis. Due to the primary objective of the subtitle A is trying to diminish the policy stigma effect. I would like to use the “difference in difference method” to examine whether SNAP recipients’ mental health, particularly the shameful and depressed feelings among recipients have been improved. This policy analysis mainly has the purpose of problem analysis. I want to answer “what are the goal and objective of this policy under this analysis?” Above evaluation analysis is part of the complete analysis on SNAP. Popple and Leighniger (2008) argued that good Policy analysis almost always begins with solid description and historical analysis, always is based on the best empirical data available, and then proceeds to focus on logic, efficiency, effectiveness.


  1. Titmuss, Richard. “Universalism versus selection.” The welfare state reader(2000): 42-50.
  2. Gilbert, N., & Terrell, P. (2002). Dimensions of social welfare policy. Allyn & Bacon.
  3. Popple, P. & Leighninger, L. (2008) Chapter 3: Social Welfare Policy Analysis: Basic Concept. In The Policy-based profession (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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The Principles of the Food Stamp Program for the Low Income Americans. (2021, Sep 28). Retrieved from

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