Pennsylvania's food stamp program is underutilized (30 percent of those eligible for food stamps don't receive them), efficiently run, and has one of the lowest rates of fraud in the country (a tenth of a percent). With such a model program, you would think that officials would be working to figure out how to expand the program and feed more at risk families. Instead, Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare is planning on imposing an asset test on food stamp recipients.
Individuals under 60 with more than $2,000 in saving and over 60 with more than $3,250 in savings would no longer qualify for food stamps. While retirement savings, a house, and a single vehicle wouldn't count in the test, the change would still eliminate 2%, more than 36,000 individuals, from the food stamp program.
The reason the Department of Public Welfare gives for the change is to eliminate fraud, even though there is precious litte in Pennsylvania. Instead, the new test will punish those who are being responsible and saving money, or are on the verge of making it out of poverty. It would also punish senior citizens who are saving for their own funeral arrangements.
This test is as damaging to impoverished families as it is unnecessary. It punishes behavior it should be rewarding, and could throw many on the verge of not needing food stamps back into depending on the program permanently. Tell Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare not to impose an asset test for food stamps.
Photo Credit: Francios Schnell