During this transition, USDA is working closely with State agencies, retailers, community and faith-based organizations and other partners to ensure successful and seamless implementation of the national name change and other components of the Farm Bill.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) October 1, 2008
Secretary Ed Schafer today announced the advent of a new era in nutrition assistance at USDA. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name of the Food Stamp Program, as a result of the recently enacted Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246), also known as the Farm Bill. SNAP more accurately reflects the program's true mission to provide food assistance and nutrition education to assist participants as they move to a healthier lifestyle and self-sufficiency.
"The national name change and implementation of the Farm Bill provisions strengthens the Program's ability to more effectively put healthy food within reach by increasing access to all who are eligible," said Secretary Schafer. "As we continue to modernize the program, it is time to refocus our efforts on reducing barriers to essential nutrition assistance benefits for those most in need."
SNAP will continue to be largest domestic nutrition assistance program providing a vital supplement to the food budgets of more than 28 million low-income individuals each month. Today, participants access benefits with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, similar to debit cards - not stamps or coupons. Procedures and application requirements for these benefits will remain the same. States are not required to change their program name to SNAP.
"During this transition, USDA is working closely with State agencies, retailers, community and faith-based organizations and other partners to ensure successful and seamless implementation of the national name change and other components of the Farm Bill." said USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Nancy Montanez Johner. "This is a great opportunity to showcase this effective and efficient modern nutrition program and make clear to all that SNAP puts healthy food within reach of low income Americans."
Other provisions of the Farm Bill effective today include the exclusion of retirement and education savings accounts and combat pay when determining eligibility. The minimum benefit is indexed to inflation and will increase from $10 to $14.
USDA's 15 nutrition assistance programs reach one in five Americans each year and are designed to work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Funding for nutrition assistance has increased to $60.1 billion -- a 76 percent increase since 2001. During the same timeframe, almost 10.5 million more low-income children and individuals received food stamp benefits and the percentage of eligible individuals participating in the program rose from 54 percent in 2001 to 67 percent in 2006.