Reasons People need Food Stamps

According to a survey released on March 3, 2011 by Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), nearly one in five households state that they need food stamps in order to feed their families. Stop and consider the longer term ramifications of this problem and it soon becomes evident why the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is so vital to not just families but to the economy as a whole. That aside, the SNAP program serves people who find themselves needing food stamps for some of the following reasons.

Loss of job

Those who are still suffering from job losses caused by the recession may be in need of assistance to help make ends meet. Some of these unemployed persons have never needed assistance before, but since unemployment insurance is a portion of their regular income, there seems to be too much month left at the end of the money.

Loss of partner

Many people are from two-income families with both partners working and contributing to the household. Divorce and death contribute to a loss of income often requiring that to make ends meet a person file for food stamp benefits. While the statistics on this type of use are not clear, there is little doubt that those who have depended on dual incomes to maintain a household will feel the pinch with the loss of a partner.

Rising prices

Perhaps one of the ironies of the recession is that while job creation remains low or stagnant, more people are losing their jobs and money is tight, food prices continue to rise. Couple this with rising gasoline prices, heating oil prices and health care costs and you have a recipe for disaster. Rising prices mean that the dollar that is earned will simply not go as far. This often results in families needing assistance to make ends meet.

Health crisis

Families without health-care insurance or with high-deductible plans who find themselves with medical problems often have to deal with high out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses can range from simple doctor visits to prescription drug costs. All too frequently, unexpected medical costs can devastate a family regardless of their financial status.


Families in the United States should never have to make the decision between putting food on the table and paying their rent or mortgage. Sadly, it is a decision that thousands of families may face every day. The reasons people need food stamps vary from household to household although the bottom line remains the same. People need food stamps to ensure their family eats a healthy, well-balanced diet without worrying where their next meal is coming from.

Additional Reading:

NY Times Afford Food, Survey Finds By JASON DePARLE

Urban Institute Families Turn to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Help Sheila R. Zedlewski, Ei Yin Mon