Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Six Food and Nutrition Assistance Programs

The federal budget has a Subfunction of the "Income Security" called "Food & Nutrition Assistance". This subfunction costs 79 billion dollars. What is that money being used for? Despite there being 15 accounts listed under the subfunction "Food & Nutrition Assistance", there are actually only 6 total programs taking up a combined total of 79 billion dollars. The six programs and their relative cost are below.

Cost of Food Nutrition Programs
As you can see the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) makes up almost 70% of the spending. This is what most people know as food stamps. The next biggest categories are Child Nutrition Programs and WIC. The former is basically the school lunch program, and WIC is basically SNAP, but specialized for women and infant children. All three of these programs are designed to help feed the poor and combined account for 98% of the spending in this category.

Of the remaining programs, here's a brief overview of each of them.
Section 32, the "Funds for Strengthening Markets, Income, and Supply" is a program used by the Secretary of Agriculture was a program form the depression. It was the program the government used to buy excesses in agricultural output to stabilize prices. It's purchases normally went to shelters and food banks. 80 years later not much has changed. The reason it's labeled as "Nutrition Assistance" is because the food it buys normally goes to support the other 5 food programs.

"Emergency Food & Shelter" isn't a welfare program for the poor. It's the only program of the six that isn't. It pays for the food that FEMA delivers to disaster sites. Being that it's only 284 million dollars, (a rounding error by federal government standards) this entire subfunction may as well be considered "Welfare".

The last program, the "Commodity Assistance Program" is the smallest welfare program. It is a collection of funds to deliver buy food for various soup kitchens and emergency stores.
So there you have it, unlike the housing programs, 99.9% of the funds labeled "Food & Nutrition Assistance" in the "income security" function are in fact welfare programs.
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