SNAP helps people in need and local economies

By Tyler Tribute staff

Tyler Tribute of Tyler, Minnesota

The SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) Program is a safety net that helps Min-nesotans with low incomes meet their nutritional needs. This is extremely important because limited funds create challenges for low-income people to eat nutritiously. Children cannot learn as well, adults cannot work as productively, and seniors cannot maintain their independence without proper nutrition.

In the U.S. in FY 2012, more than 46 million low-income people were served with SNAP each month, but even more people are eligible but are not participating. In fact, more than 50 percent of those eligible are not currently enrolled. Eligibility is based on family size, income and expenses, and the amount of benefits is determined based on these factors as well. The SNAP program requires able-bodied adults under age 60 (with some exceptions) to register to work, take part in training programs referred by SNAP and to accept and continue suitable employment. Only U.S. citizens and those lawfully present in the U.S. may be eligible for SNAP benefits.

In addition to the benefits to the people participating in the SNAP program, there are economic benefits as well. SNAP funds help support local food retailers. The average monthly SNAP benefit is approximately $290 per household, which is nearly always spent in local grocery stores. This spending helps generate economic activity. In fact, for every $5 in new SNAP benefits, $9 is generated in total community spending. Increased ability to purchase food by low-income people also helps support farms. On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates 3,000 farm jpbs. And in a tight fiscal climate for Minnesota, it's important to note that participation by Minnesotans helps leverage federal funds. SNAP benefits are Federal funds.

Western Community Action is working to help potentially eligible Minnesotans learn about and get enrolled in the SNAP program. By increasing the number of our neighbors who participate in the program we not only help those in need make ends meet; we also help stimulate our local economies by bringing those federal dollars here to be spent in local businesses.

For more information or to find out if you are eligible, please contact Western Community Action at 507-537-1416 or 507-847-2632 and ask to speak to someone about food assistance.

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