The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is called SNAP for short and has been historically known as the Food Stamp Program, has been helping to put food on the table for Americans since 1939. It's served as a needed lifeline for tens of millions over the past 8 decades as people from all walks of life struggled financially to make ends meet.

However, critics say that the program created in the aftermath of the great depression to help prevent millions of Americans from starving isn't being used as well as it could. Because of this, millions of dollars in taxpayer money are being wasted.

The First Food Stamp Recipient Ever Was From Western New York

Prior to World War II, while still in the shadow of the Great Depression, this federal program created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered its very first benefit payment on May 16, 1939.

The person who was the beneficiary of those inaugural food stamps lived here in Western New York, and according to USDA records, Ms. Mabel McFiggin could buy some flour, eggs, and a few vegetables.

More than 80 years have passed since then, and people can buy a lot more with their food stamps than Ms. McFiggin could.

This is where the problem sits for many critics of the program. In recent years, there has been a growing outcry about the amount of potential waste in the food stamp program and the amount of benefits wasted on food with no nutritional value.

New York Spends A Ton Of Money On Food Stamps

Even though New York is the 4th largest state by population, it spends more money than nearly every other state. In August 2023 alone,  more than $600 million was spent on food stamp benefits in the Empire State.

If current estimates are accurate, more than $150 million was wasted on junk food like pop, candy, potato chips, desserts, and other unhealthy foods.

With such a high number being claimed to be wasted every month, federal politicians are seeking to amend what SNAP benefits can be used to pay for.

Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida, has a plan that would prevent people from being able to buy junk food and soda with their food stamp benefits.

If this plan goes into effect, millions of New Yorkers would be impacted as it would limit what they could buy with food stamps.

Should New York prevent food stamp recipients from being able to buy junk food and pop? Or should things be left alone, allowing recipients to buy whatever they choose?

These Counties Have The Most Food Stamp Recipients Per Capita In New York

SNAP usage has increased across the state since the start of the pandemic

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

These Counties Have The Most Temporary Assistance Recipients Per Capita In New York State

Temporary Assistance (TA) usage, also known as Public Assistance (PA), has increased steadily over the last few years.

Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

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