Food stamp scheme fails to help low-income families in USA

Food stamps have failed to make a significant dent in the economic insecurity of families in poverty in the USA, according to new research.

The study looked at the role of the Food Stamps Program (FSP) in promoting economic security during 2004 and 2007. The purpose of the FSP is to increase food purchasing power and nutrition among low-income families.

Key points

  • Food stamps are typically inadequate to significantly reduce economic insecurity among families in poverty.
  • Almost 50 per cent of the eligible population has not participated in the FSP – suggesting that the effects on poverty reduction depend on the degree of program participation.
  • Food stamps do help promote economic security among low-income but ‘non-poor’ families.
  • The eligibility criteria for the program, as well as its graduated benefits structure, need to be rethought so that the benefits can be extended without increasing work disincentive effects.

Source: Udaya Wagle, Promoting Economic Security among Low Income Families in the United States: The Effects of Food Stamps on Labor Supply, Income, and Poverty, Working Paper 2012-17, National Poverty Center (University of Michigan,