Oh SNAP! Fight hunger
Did you know one in six Hoosiers don’t know where their next meal is coming from? To combat this serious problem, the Legislature promoted hunger awareness this session and Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, a state association of food banks affiliated with Feeding America, which is the nation’s largest food bank network. A food drive was started, and a public service announcement was recorded to help raise awareness.
Our state and nation’s economy is continuing to improve, but some Hoosiers are still struggling. An estimated 117,900 Hoosiers receive emergency food assistance each week from a food pantry, soup kitchen, or agency served by Feeding Indiana’s Hungry member food banks, according to the 2010 Hunger in America: Indiana State Report. We can do more to ensure the efficiency of food distribution and to promote the organizations in place who are making a difference in people’s everyday lives.
As the Vice-Chairman of the committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs, I had a particular interest in Senate Bill (SB) 530, which deals with the schedule of electronic benefits transfers from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This federal program, formerly known as Food Stamps, provides food assistances to people and families in the United States.
SB 530 ensures that SNAP funds are distributed between the 5th and the 23rd of each month, which will spread out the fund distribution versus the current system where a lump sum is given to SNAP recipients at the beginning of the month. Currently, SNAP participants are given benefits on a 10 day schedule during the first half of the month. Each recipient receives one payment per month on one of those 10 days.
I offered an amendment to this bill to spread the distribution of these benefits into two times per month instead of one large chunk at the beginning. This will encourage benefit recipients to manage their money more wisely, ensuring that families have a supply of food for the entire month.
In addition, the bill provides that the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) must submit a waiver to the federal government requesting that Indiana be allowed to implement the photo ID requirement and dual distribution. A provision was added in the House to help ensure that the benefits are only spent by the intended recipients. A government-issued photo ID would be required to use the electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, hopefully deterring use of these funds by unauthorized individuals.
The amount of SNAP assistance given to families depends on income level and people per household. For one person making a monthly net income of $931, the maximum SNAP allotment is $200 per month. A family of four with a monthly net income of $1,921 is eligible for $668 in SNAP assistance. There are other qualifications such as residency, citizenship/alien status, work registration and cooperation with different job training programs.
SB 530 puts Indiana another step closer to ensuring that Hoosiers have the help they need to live, work and raise a family in a safe, healthy environment. I am more than willing to answer any questions you may have about this program or anything else going on in state government. Please feel free to call me at 317-232-9850 or email email@example.com.
State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.