My new book, Why SNAP Works: A Political History—and Defense—of the Food Stamp Program, makes a strong case for why Americans should appreciate the genius of and continue to support the nation’s most important anti-hunger effort: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
What started in the Great Depression as an experimental approach to using up surplus agricultural commodities and revived in the early 1960s as a modest effort to address pockets of acute need, is today the nation’s foundational food assistance program, and an essential anti-poverty tool. Some 40 million Americans rely on SNAP to bolster their food budgets, and the program proved pivotal to staving off widespread deprivation during the depths of the pandemic. That the modern program marks a major milestone next August – 60 years since passage of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 – is likely to go little noticed. But we all should take a moment to celebrate a uniquely American success story.