Wednesday, October 08, 2008

No more Food Stamps?

Sort of...

On June 18, Congress enacted The Food, Conversation and Energy Act of 2008 (FCEA) that reauthorized the Food Stamp Program.

One of the little noticed sections, 4001, contained a provision to rename the program:


(a) Short Title- The first section of the Food Stamp Act of 1977 (7 U.S.C. 2011 note; Public Law 88-525) is amended by striking `Food Stamp Act of 1977' and inserting `Food and Nutrition Act of 2008'.

(b) Program- The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (7 U.S.C. 2011 et seq.) (as amended by subsection (a)) is amended by striking `food stamp program' each place it appears and inserting `supplemental nutrition assistance program'.

The change then required 203 lines (on my computer screen) to list and order changed all existing references to the name in other laws of the United States.

How much does this cost? Every document, form, advertisement, etc., will have to be changed to reflect this new name - not just on the federal level, but at state and local levels as well.

And what is the purpose of changing the name? Other than creating an acronym of SNAP, it appears the Congress thought the new name was more reflective of what the program does. Considering that the name has been around for 31 years, I'm guessing just about every American (and even foreigners) know what the Food Stamp Program is and does.

But that's not the worst of it. Nope - The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) instructed states that they could either adopt the new federal name of SNAP or use a different name - anything they want so long as it wasn't 'food stamps.'

Ohio decided it would use a different name and held a contest among all the county departments of job and family services to solicit ideas and names to consider. They then set up a joint state and county workgroup to review the 29 submissions and narrow it down to three, with ODJFS executive staff making the final selection.

So, effective October 1, Ohio's old Food Stamp Program will be known as the "Food Assistance Program."

ODJFS, in its announcement of the new name, explained that "Food Assistance Program" more simply conveys the intent of the program and will cause less confusion to customers, advocates and the general public. Thankfully, they did allow county JFS offices to continue using existing forms, brochures, informational materials and handbooks, but to begin referring to the program by its new name, or just as 'food assistance.'

This means that the costs of the name change are minimized within Ohio, at least, but it5 also means that the federal government - and citizens - will have to keep track of the various names states decide to use.

This is what occupies the time of our congressional representatives. Now I'm waiting for all the commercials and ad campaigns to 'educate' us on the change. Your tax dollars hard at work.

1 comment:

Tim Higgins said...


Certainly you can't question the use of taxpayer dollars for a more politically correct name (you know, one that makes people feel good about themselves for accepting government help). :-)

Welcome to the world of the future where giveaway programs have catchy, image conscious names; anything but calling them what they actually are. Welcome to a world where state's rights means allowing them to use a different name for programs that they have no say-so in instituting.

Just remember when we are all celebrating SNAP and what will be its increasing role in helping a larger number of people driven to it by taxation and government wealth redistribution: TINSTAAFL.

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