A. What is the social problem?
We live in an era where people are faced with a lot of issues regarding malnutrition and hence among the major social problems. The number of people suffering from malnutrition has increased over the past years with the food crisis being the major cause. The crisis is a global problem whereby people with low income are the most affected. The food crisis that took place between 2007 and 2008 brought about a huge alarm from a global perspective for most countries including the U.S. which was affected too. Studies showed that the main cause of the crisis was high costs on food products; especially basic foods such as rice, wheat, maize and soya (Tanner, 2013). The hypothesis was that the increase in population had led to the food shortage whereby the prices on imports had increased due to instability in budgets from various countries and hence the increase in costs. Families that received low income was the most affected as they were unable to access adequate diet and hence resulting in an increase in the number of people that were starving. As per the Millennium goal that was articulated in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security in conjunction with the World Food Summit Plan of Action associated with the food crisis, the crisis was to be reduced into half by 2015. However, this has not been the case as the population of the starving people is still high (Tanner, 2013). Therefore, from a personal perspective, the SNAP program is an important weapon when it comes to reducing the levels of malnutrition in the United States. The population that suffers from the continuity of the problem is the low-income families whereby they are unable to access adequate diet in addition to children and the obese individuals who fail to reach their full potential as a result of inefficiency in nutrients. The U.S. is perceived to experience a hidden hunger problem whereby people tend to consume adequate calories but fail to consume important nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. The companies that benefit from the problem are those that produce junk food as people prefer taking them due to accessibility and affordability (Tanner, 2013).
B. Historical Background of the policy
SNAP that stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a program that came about from the need of having a food stamp program (FSP). Between the years 1961 and 1964, a pilot food stamp program was carried out to check its significance in reducing the aspects of malnourishment in the U.S. Before, then, a lot of studies had been done on the relevance of an FSP. Some of the senators that pushed forward the implementation of the program include; Symington, Humphrey, Follette, Aiken and Kefauver. By 1961, a food stamp system was in place as per the instruction to the Secretary of Agriculture by the P.L. 86-341 from 21st September 1959 to 31st January 1962. However, some members of Congress viewed the policy as impossible in regards to the population in the U.S. (Caswell & Yaktine, 2013).
It is worth noting that the administration by Eisenhower had not put into consideration the instruction. Nonetheless, in order to fulfill the promise that he had made while campaigning in Virginia, President Kennedy ordered the initiation of the pilot programs. On the 31st of January, 1964, President Johnston provided an appeal to the Congress to enact a law illustrating the permanency of the FSP. On 17th April 1964, Secretary Orville Freeman presented the appeal for consideration. The bill went through Congress after being presented by Congresswoman Sullivan and then passed as H.R. 10222. Some of the distinct goals of the 1964 Act were to provide support to the agricultural sector and ensuring that low-income families received adequate nutrition levels. However, from analysis, it mainly focused on bringing the pilot program under the control of Congress and to put the policy into law (Caswell & Yaktine, 2013). Some of the main provisions of the Act were; establishment of standards regarding the eligibility by States, the recipients obtaining their food stamps whereby they pay money that corresponds with their day to day expenditures on food and the receiving food stamps that provide a chance for them to obtain foods with adequate nutrition at low-costs; prohibitions in regards to any form of discrimination, appropriations in terms of $75 million, $100 million and $200 million for the first, second and third years respectively and also the division of duties between the Federal Government and the states in regards to accrediting of business entities and presentation of issuance respectively (Caswell & Yaktine, 2013).
By April 1965, the number of participants increased by half a million such that by 1966, the number had reached to a million. The number continued to increase and by end of 1967, the participants were 2 million, three million in 1969, six million in 1970, ten million in 1971 and fifteen million in 1974. The increase in number was associated with the spread of the program on a geographical perspective. Several changes took place in the FSP that include; the nationwide FSP program of 1974 that took an approximate number of fourteen participants; the Food Stamp Act Of 1977 that focused on extending the program to the needy people in the country; establishment of the Electronic Benefit Transfer that ran between 1988 to 2004 that entailed use of electronic systems in delivering services to the population; the 1993 Mickey Leland Childhood Hunger Relief Act that entailed an expansion of benefits whereby a provision of $2.8 billion was made by the federal government, The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996 that entailed the provision of temporary help to poor families; and the 2002 Farm bill (Caswell & Yaktine, 2013). The Farm Bill was what led to the formation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It is worth noting that by the end of the 90s, the number of participants had reduced mainly because of increase in unemployment rates and hence changes had to be done to increase the number. By 2008, the number of people benefiting from the program was twenty-nine million on a monthly basis. For the purpose of reducing stigma for people in the program, the name, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was enacted, and every state was required to use it or use an alternative name rather than the FSP. The idea was for the people to view the program as a welfare program rather than a program for the poor (Caswell & Yaktine, 2013).
II. Policy Content
A. Goals and Objectives
The main goal of SNAP is to ensure that individuals that are eligible for the program obtain nutritious, safe and balanced diet at low costs and balanced body energy that is often released through body activities (Bales, Locher, & Saltzman, 2014). The objectives associated with the goal include; advance access to proper diet; promote the need of having a healthy diet and physical activity; securing public health through foods that are safe; also ensuring that the agricultural health is secure by decreasing the amount of pests and disease on agricultural products (Bales, Locher, & Saltzman, 2014).
The program is open to every person regardless of race, age, gender, religion and any other distinctive factor, and people who are homeless. Also, people that are employed are eligible for SNAP. It is worth noting that a calculation that takes into details factors that include citizenship, family size, income and significant expenses determine the eligibility for SNAP. Therefore, when it comes to determining the eligibility for SNAP, the screening tests include; citizenship, income, disability, and resources (Bales, Locher, & Saltzman, 2014). In regards to citizenship, an individual should have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, are children under eighteen-years of age, and whether they are obtaining benefits associated with disabilities. Also, non-citizens that are in the U.S. that are present because of humanitarian reasons and those brought in for a permanent location are eligible for the program. When it comes to resources, countable resources such as bank accounts are considered; mostly with an annual income of $2250 but basics such as home are not considered. For income, tests are carried out unless all family members receive SSI, TANF or any other basic assistance. For disability, an individual is considered for the program if he or she aligns with the disability provisions by SNAP; an example being an individual who is disabled and is a war veteran (Bales, Locher, & Saltzman, 2014).
The benefits of the program include; preventing cases of poverty and hunger by meeting the nutritional needs of the poor people in the U.S.; saving on costs as poor people are able to manage their finances well; improvement in public health especially for children and the elderly people and also economic benefits in regards to increase in farm production (Whitney and Rolfes, 2015).
The policy is administered by the Federal government under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the governments of various states. Some of the common service providers are the farmer's market that make part of the retailers and wholesalers and ensure individuals receive nutritious goods at low costs. Most of the communities have farmers' markets that make it easy for people to access the products without having to spend too much (Bales, Locher, & Saltzman, 2014).
Since SNAP is a mandatory program, the federal government is responsible for funding every need required by the eligible population. The funding is spent by splitting the amount provided by the government among states. Each state is expected to present the number of people eligible for the services to ensure that adequate resources are present and that states enjoy equal benefits (Stein, 2014).
One of the policies that SNAP works with, entails discrimination. According to SNAP, every person is allowed to apply for the program regardless of race, gender, disability, age and any other distinctive feature. It also aligns with the millennium goal of reducing poverty as poor people can easily access proper diet at low costs. Also, the federal government, through the USDA, works with governments from various states to ensure that SNAP is being implemented as expected; especially when it comes to funding where the federal government has the sole responsibility of funding the program in each state. The policy has been able to ensure that poor people receive adequate diet whereby the percentage of participations is approximately 85% (Tanner, 2013). The policy has allowed poor people to manage their finances, decrease the levels of poverty and also result in an increase in farm production. However, the policy requires reforms especially when it comes to the overdependence on the government. Furthermore, there have been cases of fraud and misuses of funds among the state officials (Tanner, 2013). Therefore, a possible recommendation would be for if each state to consider putting up back-up plans for the program just in case of problems in the Federal Government that may interfere with it. Another recommendation would be for crucial auditing of the expenditures to ensure that each activity in the program receives the required amount to prevent cases of fraud.
Bales, C., Locher, J., & Saltzman, E. (2014). Handbook of clinical nutrition and aging (1st ed.). New York: Springer. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=EIqeBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA16&dq=Bales,+C.+Handbook+of+clinical+nutrition+and+aging&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwih2uDWuLDQAhXFNxQKHTLBDgUQ6AEIGTAA#v=onepage&q=Bales%2C%20C.%2...
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