How much allowance do you really get on food stamps?
Continuing a topic that was inspired by a lot of public chatter on news sites this week regarding the Michigan food stamp program, I have found a chart on the U.S. Department of Agriculture web site that explains how much an eligible individual or family could receive on food stamps.
I’m glad I found this because in the most recent case where I knew someone who received food stamps, she was issued $200 a month in benefits for herself as a “working poor” individual. Therefore, the publicity campaigns I’d been hearing on this topic were not making sense.
Keep in mind there could be adjustments to the maximum allotment, depending on how the eligibility formula works out. The example in this screen shot shows one of those.
There are also state to state variances for eligibility requirements and deductions noted on the USDA site. If you live in Michigan, here are the Michigan Department of Human Services eligibility rules.
But this chart proves the potential allotment is way more than the $28 a week that has been touted even fairly recently as a “food stamp budget”.
And yes, the maximum in some cases is more than the numbers indicated on the “thrifty” range of the USDA Cost of Food study that I have long taught as a reasonable grocery budget.
Use the “thrifty” range on this chart, dated Nov. 2012, and you will see that a grocery budget for a single man age 19-60 is $180.40; for two adults is $375.40 and for a family of four with two grade school children is $626.60:
To be fair, those who are in that income bracket have other expenses where their limited cash needs to go. But it’s also fair to say that once you hit that income bracket, there could be resources in other directions your family can apply for. I’ve long said that if you honestly meet the the eligibility requirements for a particular program, you are the individual or family it was written for. Sign up and use it.
Is it possible to run out of groceries even on an “above thrifty” budget before you run out of month?
Certainly, it is. Many of the families I’ve met during my grocery classes (and most of them earn too much money to receive food stamps at all) spend more than the thrifty range because they haven’t figured out how to use the money-saving tricks that are available to them.