History of food stamps in the US

History of food stamps in the US

When we think of food stamps, we think of getting a good deal at a price that would be easy on the wallet and heavy on the stomach. But what if the American food stamps were just another strategy to hide the negative impact of the crop crisis in rural America?

And this was not just some minor setback, this crop crisis took the entire country by storm. But these food stamps were one-way tickets to capitalism wrapped in pretty paper.

So, let us look into the history of food stamps as we can tell that this was just another money-making strategy that may or may not has been proven successful.


No, this is not the food snap you take on Snapchat, that you might be thinking. SNAP was the name given to food stamps which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Through this program, all resources are distributed electronically so there is hardly any room for bias.

It was during Donald Trump’s era that it was decided that food stamps would be part of food baskets. And the SNAP program was very similar to what the Trump administration wanted.

Although it is popular opinion that food stamps are a response to the poverty found in the urban areas, the concept is very much farm-based. Maurice MacDonald, an economics professor states that the roots of the history of food stamps lie in the Great Depression.

Contrary to what happened, the SNAP program was in no way a drive to stop hunger in the US. It was a way of hiding the prices of food and keeping the public unaware after the country went through some serious crop crisis as a result of the Great Depression.

There was support for this program from farming communities as well as the poor in the country especially the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia. The basic agricultural commodities were available to the community and distributed for which people had to stand in lines. This further stigmatized the concept of poverty.

history of food stamps in the US

Food stamps disappeared

And of course, as usual, the war ruined everything. As World War 2 started to emerge, the food program went on the backburner. Since the situation in Europe had gotten out of hand, the program made a comeback but whatever resources could be put together were sent to the people recovering from the war.

Soon after the war, the poor in the US complained that they should get some benefit because the US helping Europe was only putting the Americans at a loss.

It was during the Eisenhower Administration that commodity distribution continued but when John Kennedy started his campaign for the poor in West Virginia during the 1960s, he came across issues at a grassroots level.

This meant the program was not satisfactory as it was not properly providing for the recipients. Another concern of the program was that it was just distributing food but it was not keeping the nutritional needs of the people in mind.

However, once Kennedy came into power, his administration made sure to bring reforms in the program that would generally benefit the public. These were called the food stamp pilot projects taking place all over the nation. A recipient would receive stamps of a certain amount and could redeem them at the same price at the grocery stores.

Food Stamp Act, 1964

In 1964, the Food Stamp Act also brought about some changes. This act expanded the food program, the support for this program came from many farm-state senators.

Senator Robert Kennedy then took into account the issues regarding the people who are hungry in the US by making visits to the Mississippi Delta. And in 1968, a program called the Hunger US started to gain public attention as it became a matter of concern.

The major revolution of the program came during the Nixon Administration. Nixon mentioned in his address to Congress that he wished to end all hunger in America. And a few years later, in 1971, there was almost a complete end to the commodity distribution and the recipients were allowed to decide for themselves what they wanted to purchase to eat.

It was during the end of Nixon’s term that the food program has expanded but slowly, controversies started to arise regarding the troublesome program. College students complained that they were not getting enough access to food and there were also other abuses taken into consideration.

By 1974, the program had expanded in all the counties of the US and the recipients greatly increased in number as the program became more lenient and recession had led to great amounts of poverty and unemployment. So, food stamps were the way to go.

Debates about the food program

Although most people consider this initiative as a helpful one because it reduced hunger issues greatly, some argue that it was just the government’s way of staying on top. As the food program evolved more and more, it gave options to the recipients and also more choices.

But during Donald Trump’s era, the administration believed that the state could take all possible measures to help people with the hunger crisis. But eventually, some factors always seem to intervene. Either way, the history of food stamps has been quite an interesting one.

Politigory provides in-depth reviews of science, history, humanities, religion, social sciences and arts 🌎

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