“I grew up on Section 8 housing, food stamps, welfare, and dealing with social services. I never had a Christmas. I never had a birthday.”

Logic, Musician

Pros and Cons of Food Stamps

advantages and disadvantages of food stamps

The concept of food stamps is a rather controversial topic. While some people advocate for it since it can help the poorest among us to get enough food to survive and also has many other advantages, there are also many opponents of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

In fact, there are many pros and cons of food stamps that I will discuss for you in the following chapters.

Advantages of Food Stamps

  1. Poor people can afford sufficient food to survive
  2. People eat healthier on average
  3. Costs for healthcare system may decrease
  4. Lower social tensions
  5. People will have more money to spend on other things
  6. Food stamps can help people overcome difficult periods in their lives
  7. People can save more money for retirement
  8. SNAP program can protect the poorest among us
  9. May be a valid tool to overcome financial crisis times
  10. Can be regarded as kind of a safety net
  11. Food stamps can take away emotional pressure from people
  12. Food stamps are easy to use
  13. High number of people will be available for the SNAP program
  14. Fewer people will suffer from hunger
  15. Food stamps can help people to get better education
  16. Higher chance to get out of poverty
  17. Can help you to start a business

Poor people can afford sufficient food to survive

One important advantage of food stamps is that it helps people to afford sufficient food to survive. Especially people who got unemployed or suffer from disabilities that prevent them from working struggle to pay their bills and they often have months where they barely have money at all for food after paying for rent, electricity and other urgent expenses.

With food stamps, those groups of people will have a much easier time since they can get additional financial means to go to the store and to buy enough food to survive in the long run.

People eat healthier on average

Since people will have more money to spend on food on average, they will also tend to eat healthier in general. Many people would not be able to afford to buy healthy food since it is often far more expensive. Yet, thanks to the introduction of the SNAP program, they will now be able to buy some of those better foods.

If they eat better, they will also have more energy to achieve things in life and chances are that people will also feel better in general since healthy food increases the chance for a healthy body and a healthy brain in the long run.

Costs for healthcare system may decrease

Another benefit of food stamps is that also the overall healthcare costs may decrease. If people have more money for food and eat healthier, chances are that fewer people will suffer from underweight.

Moreover, since they consume healthier food, people will also be less likely to suffer from serious diseases once they get older.

In turn, also the probability for the need for surgeries decreases and so do the overall costs for the healthcare system in general.

Lower social tensions

The SNAP program can also contribute to lower the social tensions in society. While there is a small minority of rich people, the majority of people make barely enough money to pay their bills. In fact, the gap between the rich and the poor widens every year and if we don’t take measures to change that, our society will finally fall apart and chances of protests and conflicts increase significantly.

The food stamps program can be a first step to close the wealth gap between the rich and the poor since it gives the poor additional opportunities to buy food. In turn, people will be happier and more satisfied on average and the risk of conflicts in society will likely decrease.

People will have more money to spend on other things

Food stamps not only help people to buy more food. Through food stamps, they will also have to use less disposable income for food and can spend more money on other things. For instance, before the invention of the SNAP program, poor people often had to decide whether they wanted to spend their money on food or on clothes. Now, both things will be possible and don’t have to make compromises regarding those two vital things.

Food stamps can help people overcome difficult periods in their lives

Another upside to the SNAP program is that it also helps people overcome difficult periods in their lives. As we all know, life can be difficult from time to time and extreme events can lead to a state where people just lose their grip and get close to the point where they just want to give up since they are so overwhelmed with their problems.

In such a case, food stamps can give people additional hope since they may feel that there is still a chance to improve their lives and therefore, people may get additional motivation to carry on and to overcome their problems.

People can save more money for retirement

If you have to invest less disposable income on food thanks to food stamps, this also means that you will be able to save more money for retirement. In fact, many people in our current state of the world suffer from old-age poverty and many retirees even need a second job to survive.

With food stamps, this problem can be mitigated to a certain extent since people can just more in their younger years and can invest this money to have additional financial measures once they get older.

SNAP program can protect the poorest among us

It should also be our social responsibility as a society to support and protect the poorest among us. It is just not fair that the richest people own tremendous wealth while many other people struggle to survive, even though they work hard every day.

The SNAP program is a step in the right direction since it supports the poor part of society and aims to protect them from homelessness and other unpleasant things that come along with a lack of money.

May be a valid tool to overcome financial crisis times

The SNAP program can also be a great tool to strengthen the economy. This is especially true for financial crisis times. In such times, people often feel insecure and save money instead of spending it.

However, this is detrimental to our economic system since only if people spend sufficient money during those times, we can overcome those crisis times much sooner.

Therefore, food stamps can also be a great way to overcome financial crisis situation since the SNAP program provides additional opportunities for people to buy food.

Can be regarded as kind of a safety net

Food stamps also play an important role in the overall safety net. In many states, people who lose their jobs or suffer from serious diseases are pretty vulnerable due to insufficient welfare schemes. In those states, the SNAP program can give additional support to people who are no longer able to make an income so that they still can afford enough food to survive.

Food stamps can take away emotional pressure from people

In our current state of the world, many people also suffer from significant mental and emotional pressure since they just don’t know how they should pay their bills and whether they will be able to buy enough food in the future.

The SNAP program can lower those concerns a little bit since it guarantees a certain budget for food each month and this can just take away plenty of emotional pressure from people who can now be sure that they will have sufficient measures to buy at least the most basic food for their families.

Food stamps are easy to use

Another advantage of the SNAP program is that it is also pretty straightforward. Each month, people get their food stamps and can just use them in various grocery stores.

Food stamps are pretty easy to use and you don’t have to be smart or need any advanced knowledge to participate in this program.

High number of people will be available for the SNAP program

Since the number of people who are no longer able to afford sufficient healthy food has increased substantially over the past decade, many millions of people benefit from the SNAP program.

In fact, millions of people use the food stamps program in the United States right now and chances are that the number will even increase in the near future.

Fewer people will suffer from hunger

Thanks to the SNAP program, fewer people will have to suffer from hunger in general. More people will have sufficient money to afford basic food items. In turn, they will be satisfied in their daily lives in general and will also have more energy and ambition to achieve their goals and dreams compared to a state where they just had to go to bed hungry.

Food stamps can help people to get better education

The concept of food stamps is not only pretty important for individuals, but also for many families who struggle to pay their bills. Quite often, the youngest in our society suffer the most since they will often not have enough money to spend on educational purposes.

With food stamps, less money has to be spent on food and more disposable income will be available to provide kids with school materials or other educational support.

Higher chance to get out of poverty

The SNAP program also helps many people to get out of poverty. With food stamps, even really poor people will be able to afford basic groceries. In turn, their bodies and their brains will work in a more efficient manner and they will also be in a better mood and will have more ambition to really achieve things in life. Consequently, those people will be more eager to work hard and to get out of their misery.

Can help you to start a business

Food stamps can also help ambitious people to start their own businesses. If you have to spend less money on food, you can invest more money for starting your own company and this increases the chances of success in most cases. In turn, more people might be able to build a successful business and to get out of poverty compared to a system where food stamps were non-existent.

Now that you know all the benefits of the SNAP programs, it is time to also talk about all the downsides that come along with it to give you a more comprehensive picture regarding this important topic.

Disadvantages of Food Stamps

  1. Concept of food stamps implies some extra costs for the state
  2. Not all people who are eligible for food stamps actually need them
  3. Some people will just game the system
  4. Incentives to work may decrease
  5. People can just substitute their consumption
  6. SNAP program does exclude a significant number of people
  7. The food stamps program is operated on state level
  8. Food stamps can also be used for unhealthy food
  9. People may be stigmatized by using food stamps
  10. Bureaucracy related to the food stamps program
  11. People may not know that they are eligible for the SNAP program
  12. Food stamps cannot be used for many other important products for daily life

Concept of food stamps implies some extra costs for the state

One problem with food stamps is that the SNAP program simply implies additional costs for the state. The costs that are created through the SNAP program will lead to an additional burden for taxpayers and in the long run, less money will be left for other important programs.

Hence, governments and states have to prioritize those important programs and money that is spent on food stamps may no longer be available for other social welfare programs.

Not all people who are eligible for food stamps actually need them

Many people also apply for food stamps since they are simply eligible for them, even though they would just not urgently need them.

In fact, the SNAP program leaves significant room for discretion and many people who would be able to afford enough healthy food without food stamps will still be eligible for the program.

Thus, plenty of taxpayers’ money will be spent on people who might not even need any support to pay their bills.

Some people will just game the system

Another downside to food stamps is that many people will also try to game the system. They may create fake personalities or game the system in various other ways to get food stamps and to sell them to make a profit.

This is quite sad, yet there are people out there who just seem to have no ethics and our social state is exploited by those people every day.

Consequently, lots of money is wasted for those people and will just not end up in the places where it would be urgently needed.

Incentives to work may decrease

Since people will have better opportunities to get food, some of them may also decide that working is just not a good idea for them. Moreover, also people who are currently unemployed may lose their motivation to search for a job since they may also be able to afford basic things for their daily life without the need of working.

Thus, food stamps may also lower the incentive for people to work hard since they know that there will be a safety net that will cover them in the worst case.

People can just substitute their consumption

While food stamps can just be used for food, this doesn’t mean that people are not smart and just shift their expenses. For instance, a person who buys food and tobacco may just spend less money from his disposable income on food than before and will still have additional money to spend on tobacco.

Therefore, people who understand the system will just substitute their expenses and can game the system that way.

In turn, food stamps may not improve their diets, but rather their financial capabilities to buy more unhealthy things.

SNAP program does exclude a significant number of people

Another disadvantage of the SNAP program is that simply not all people who would need support will be eligible for this program. There are certain requirements that you have to meet for the food stamps program and many people out there just fall through the cracks.

Consequently, many people will still suffer from hunger, even with the SNAP program already in place.

The food stamps program is operated on state level

Another problem with the SNAP program is that it is operated on a state level. This makes it pretty hard for people who constantly have to move from one state to the other since they will often have to reapply and also have to inform themselves about the individual rules and regulations of each state.

Thus, the food stamps program implies serious inefficiencies and this also means that plenty of resources are basically wasted for it.

Food stamps can also be used for unhealthy food

Depending on the state you live in, you might even have the opportunity to use your food stamps for buying rather unhealthy food. In fact, many food items that can be bought through the SNAP program are not healthy at all and contain plenty of sugar or fats.

Hence, while the SNAP program had been meant to improve the nutrition and the diets of people, it will not make a real difference if people can still buy pretty unhealthy food and even get supported with it.

People may be stigmatized by using food stamps

Opponents of food stamps also often claim that people get stigmatized when using those stamps. For instance, when you use food stamps in a store, many other people will see it and may belittle or even be sorry for you. In turn, many people might even be afraid to use food stamps since they just don’t want their neighbors to know that they are needy.

Due to that, the whole system around food stamps may not work in a proper manner if people have to fear becoming socially isolated through the use of those stamps.

Bureaucracy related to the food stamps program

There is also some level of bureaucracy that comes along with the SNAP program. People have to qualify for it and have to prove this somehow.

Food stamps also have to be sent to people and this implies additional work, which also translates into additional expenses for the states.

People may not know that they are eligible for the SNAP program

Some people may not even know that the SNAP program even exists or that they might be eligible to participate in this program. In fact, the poorest among us often have so many worries and are overwhelmed with their lives.

In turn, they may just not be willing to inform themselves about social aid programs and may therefore just not profit from food stamps at all.

Food stamps cannot be used for many other important products for daily life

It is also pretty annoying that food stamps cannot be used for other basic goods for daily life apart from food. There are just many other things that people need for a dignified life, yet you will not be allowed to buy those goods with food stamps.

Consequently, it might make more sense to make those stamps eligible for various important goods instead of just confining their use to food.

Top 10 Food Stamps Pros & Cons – Summary List

Food Stamps ProsFood Stamps Cons
Food stamps can help the poorest among usFood stamps imply additional costs
People can get out of povertyBureaucracy related to food stamps
Food stamps are easy to useNot all poor people are eligible
People have more disposable incomeSNAP program may not be effective
Food stamps can increase fairnessSome people will just game the concept
People will have more energyPeople may substitute money and stamps
Food stamps can lower social tensionsYou can’t buy goods apart from food
People may eat healthier with food stampsSocial stigma related to food stamps
Can be an additional safety netPeople may not know that they are eligible
SNAP program can lower the pressureFood stamps may decrease incentive to work

Do We Need The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program?

As you can see from the previous discussion, there are indeed many advantages and disadvantages of food stamps. In my opinion, supporting the poorest among us is crucial to help them overcome their problems and to give them a foundation to get out of poverty.

However, the design of the SNAP program can be considered as rather questionable and there might be better options that could make a greater positive impact for people who urgently need support.

For instance, improving our overall welfare schemes would likely do better since people would have more money to spend on all kinds of important goods for daily life, not only for food as in the SNAP program.

Sources

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/recipient/eligibility

https://www.usa.gov/food-help

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supplemental_Nutrition_Assistance_Program

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.

As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.

After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.

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