Dude, Where’s My Food Stamps?

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Batting 500 is good if you’re a baseball player, but less good if you’re the Food Stamp program. An [analysis] of 2004 county-level data released today by the [National Priorities Project](http://nationalpriorities.org/) showed that half of low-income people do not receive food stamps. Generally speaking, counties with higher poverty rates, especially in the rural South, were better plugged into the food stamp system. But in large, urban counties, like Queens, that pattern often did not apply. Although Queens has a poverty rate above the national average for urban counties, only a third of low-income Queens residents were receiving food stamps. 

Part of the reason for that might be that half of the Queens population is foreign-born. To be eligible for food stamps you must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. In wealthier counties, eligible people have to contend with the stigma of being poor and may lack a network of people who know what’s up with the Food Stamp system. To get food stamps to their intended recipients, the report suggests relaxing eligibility criteria and focusing on outreach in counties with low participation in the program.

Photo courtesy of [urban_data on Flickr]

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