President Obama' economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, will pass the Congress in the near future.
It appears likely that a portion of these funds will be allocated for increasing the depth and the reach of the Food Stamp program, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), for Americans at the lower end of the nation's economy, and that number is growing.
Before the end of 2008, over 31 million of our fellow citizens received Food Stamps. However, for many the benefits were meagre compared to the need for food products among these families.
For a good analysis of the issue take a look at the most recent edition of "Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity."
Hungry, struggling families aside, we need to remember that every dollar set aside for the Food Stamp program is a dollar that gets spent in a local grocery market. The continuing circulation of these dollars improves the bottom line of grocers, provides jobs for workers, enhances the health and productivity of recipients, and puts dollars into the local economy. Better health and wellness outcomes affect performance at school and at work. Overall, this effort of our national community is a proven producer.
Dollars spent in this manner turn out to be a great, enduring investment in the recovery of the nation's economy.
The requirements for certification and re-certification need to be streamlined to meet the growing demand. Community centers, like the ones we operate here at Central Dallas Ministries, should be enlisted as "points of entry," complete with high-tech, user-friendly kiosks for folks to gain access to this essential and smart benefit. I've been "pitching" this notion for several years without much success. Possibly the new climate, coupled with the national need, will shake things loose!