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Report: US Food Stamp Eligibility Should Be Expanded

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In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in households that rely on food stamps.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in households that rely on food stamps. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – The Institute of Medicine (IOM), a non-profit health adviser, is receiving praise for its new report that finds American SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits are not sufficient enough for the country’s low-income families.

Released on Jan. 17, the IOM report finds that SNAP benefits have stringent limitations that keep many low-income families who are struggling to find employment from feeding themselves. The report suggests areas for more studies to enable the program to “more adequately meet the nutritional needs of many SNAP recipients.”

Their report is receiving praise from Feeding America and other non-profit hunger relief, social welfare organizations who are looking to increase funding to the SNAP program instead of making cutbacks in the sluggish economy.

“Feeding America urges our nation’s leaders to keep the SNAP program fully funded. With millions of Americans out of work, employed in part-time or low-wage jobs, and still suffering economic woes in this tough economy, this report underscores that our leaders should be talking about ways to strengthen SNAP, not cut its funding,” Bob Aiken, president and CEO of Feeding America, said in a press release. “We continue to urge Congress to not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens and to protect and strengthen SNAP.”

Headquartered in Chicago, Feeding America is a non-profit organization that consists of a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks and food rescue organizations that serve virtually every county in the United States as well as Puerto Rico.

SNAP’s website states they “put healthy food on the table for more than 46 million people each month.”

Feeding America – in response to the IOM evaluation of food stamp qualifications – suggests that the SNAP benefit restrictions should be adjusted to look at expenses that could be dwindling low-income families’ income in a less tangible manner.

Feeding America is citing the IOM study as evidence that the SNAP program restrictions should be loosened to allow more low-income families to benefit.

“Feeding America knows that millions of Americans struggle to feed themselves and their families on current SNAP benefits. The average family of three receives about $290 a month in SNAP benefits, which averages less than $1.50 per person per meal,” Aiken said. “Most SNAP benefits are redeemed by day 21 of any given month, leaving families scrambling to find enough food – and increasing the burdens on food pantries run by our nation’s charities.”

According to its website, the IOM was established in 1970 to “help those in government and the private sector make informed health decisions by providing evidence upon which they can rely.”

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