March 23, 2009

Additional Food Stamp Funding Headed to Rhode Island

Washington, D.C. – The Rhode Island Congressional Delegation today joined with the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America to announce that on April 1, Rhode Islanders receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive a boost in their monthly benefits. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the nearly 100,000 current SNAP recipients will see a permanent increase in their benefits ranging from $2 to $24 per month.

SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is a federally funded program that allows low-income households to enhance their food budgets and purchase more nutritious food.

“This increase in federal aid will help feed more Rhode Island families who need assistance and it will help stimulate our economy, which helps everybody,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who recently held a press conference with noted economist Mark Zandi to discuss how every $1 spent on food stamps helps generate $1.73 in economic activity.

“Increasing food stamp benefits will help Rhode Islanders pay their grocery bills and maintain a healthy diet – and will keep business steady for our local grocers, farmers, and fishermen – during tough economic times,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

“Food stamps help individuals meet their nutritional needs on limited budgets and lend a hand to the most vulnerable among us. It is for this reason that I have supported and will continue to support a stronger and more expansive food stamp program, and so I’m especially pleased with this additional investment,” said Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

“In tough economic times, this increase in nutrition benefits will help low-income Rhode Islanders, including elderly and disabled individuals and families with young children, make ends meet,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “The benefits of participation in SNAP also extend beyond the individual to the entire local economy.”

In 2008 alone, over $107 million federal dollars in SNAP benefits were spent in local grocery and convenience stores, farmers markets and senior meal sites throughout the state.

“With these additional SNAP benefits, working families with low wages can benefit greatly by increasing their purchasing power and stretching their food dollars,” said Kathleen Gorman, director of the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America. “SNAP benefits are arguably a powerful source of economic stimulus since benefits are spent almost immediate in the local economy.” The USDA estimates that every five dollars in benefits generates $9.20 in economic activity.

Enrollment in SNAP has increased significantly in the past year, up almost 20 percent since January 2008. Information on eligibility guidelines and application assistance is available through the Rhode Island Food Stamp Outreach Project based at the University of Rhode Island. They may be reached, toll free, at 1-866-306-0270.


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