Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Many Eligible Families Fail to Claim Food Stamp Benefits

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Many Eligible Families Fail to Claim Food Stamp Benefits

Article excerpt

Cities face significant challenges in helping connect eligible low-income families and individuals to the federal Food Stamp Program, according to a recent report released by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).

The study, "U.S. Cities Get Food Stamp Benefits to More Needy People but Still Leave Many Eligible Families Unserved," provides an overview of food stamps and hunger in 25 of the largest urban areas in America.

According to the report, access to a sufficient diet was a problem for 14.8 percent of households in central cities in 2003--a rate that is nearly 25 percent higher than that of the rest of the country. Furthermore, the cost to families of purchasing food was higher in these central cities than in the country as a whole.

Yet, only 62 percent of households eligible for food stamps in the 25 urban areas took advantage of the program.

The federal Food Stamp Program aims to provide access to nutritious food for all Americans through Electronic Benefit Transfer cards that allow low-income individuals to purchase food at grocery stores nationwide.

For those living below the poverty line, which includes one out of every four children in most of the reviewed urban areas, food stamps can be crucial to preventing hunger.

However, families living in many urban areas face multiple barriers to claiming food stamp benefits, such as language issues, lack of knowledge about how to obtain benefits and concern about a lingering stigma associated with participation in the Food Stamp Program. …

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