Toll-Free Entitlements: States Make Food-Stamp Benefits Easily Available

A new Government Accountability Office report reveals that in more than 40 states a growing number of households are able to collect food-stamp benefits simply by receiving a government-issued brochure or accessing a toll-free number.

For example, in states like Alabama, Hawaii and Montana, a brochure automatically triggers eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In California, Kentucky, Maine and Nebraska, state-issued pamphlets or “resource guides” convey the same eligibility. Other states use a variety of other methods, including notices on the program’s application and a variety of other printed materials.

In states like Delaware, the program application “refers to a pregnancy prevention hotline.” For Oklahoma, SNAP participation may be obtained through a website and an “800 number about marriage classes,” according to a report on SNAP eligibility produced by the Congressional Research Service.

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