Thursday, April 16, 2015

More on SNAP in St. Lawrence County

As I noted yesterday, 17,129 St. Lawrence County residents live in households that were receiving SNAP benefits in January 2015.  The $2,097,606 those residents received that month seems like a lot.  But I did the math:  $2,097,606 divided by 17,129 people is $122.46 per person for the month.  January had 31 days, so that works out to $3.95 per person per day.

A few years ago, I took part in a SNAP Challenge program, where I tried to feed my family on $4 per day.  Even though I have a car and the ability to shop the sales at different stores, a fully equipped kitchen, and I know how to cook from scratch, it was nearly impossible to do.  Lots of cheap food and lots of the same thing over and over.  If you don't believe me, you should try it yourelf!

So one improvement that could be made to SNAP, and this would have to happen at the federal level is to make the benefit levels more realistic.

Another concern that arose for me from looking at the data was that while 19.6% of the County's population lives at or below the federal poverty level, only 15.6% of the population is using SNAP benefits.  Since SNAP benefits are often available to people with incomes up to 200% of poverty, that's a lot of people who likely need this assistance but are not receiving it.

I'm looking for information about who is already working on these issues and ideas about how we reach people in need who are not currently receiving SNAP.  Feel free to contact me with ideas or information!