Overall enrollment in the country’s food stamp program has dropped to its lowest level in more than eight years as the economy continues to improve and the Trump administration attempts to tackle fraud in the program. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), enrollment in the program dropped in March to 40,083,954.
The last time food stamp participation dipped this low was in February 2010, when 39,588,993 people were enrolled in the program. “As the economy continues to improve, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is declining,” a USDA official who asked for anonymitytold Fox News. “SNAP was established as a temporary supplemental nutrition benefit guiding people to self-sufficiency and self-reliance, not a permanent way of life.”
The USDA official noted that much like jobless numbers, the number of enrollees in SNAP tends to fluctuate month by month. But the official added that the agency expects about 8.8 million to leave the program in the next 10 years. SNAP, which was formerly known as the Food Stamps Program, is a federal program that provides grocery assistance for people out of work or with low incomes living in the U.S. To qualify for the program, individuals must make 130 percent or less of the federal poverty level based on the household size. The program is meant to help people buy nutritional items like breads, vegetables, dairy products and meats, while barring them from purchasing alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and household supplies and paper products among other items. While overall food stamp enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2013, some observers credit President Trump’s emphasis on getting more Americans back to work and his administration’s crackdown on fraud in the SNAP program as the reason why the decline has sped up. Since Trump took office, more than 2.2 million have discontinued their participation in the SNAP program in large part due to his administration’s moves to reform SNAP.
Trump in February proposed a 30 percent, or $214 billion, cut to SNAP as part of the White House’s federal budget proposal. In April, Trump signed an executive order aiming to harden up work requirements for welfare and public assistance programs. The order, which aims to reduce poverty “by promoting opportunity and economic mobility,” calls for agencies to strengthen work requirements and to look for new ones.