Most of the budget news we report tends to be bleak. Here’s some good news for Californians who are struggling in the current economic downturn. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — aka the federal economic recovery bill — food stamp benefits are going up today. The maximum benefit will rise by 13.6 percent — that’s $80 per month more for a family of four. The federal bill will provide $1.5 billion in increased benefits, helping nearly 2.5 million low-income Californians each year. That’s money that will go to help put food on the tables of California’s families and help boost local economies.
The increased food stamp benefits are a critical component of the ARRA. Modeling of policy alternatives shows that increasing food stamp benefits provides the biggest “bang for the buck” of any alternative considered – a return of $1.73 in benefit for each $1.00 dollar spent. That’s because low-income people generally spend (rather than save) their available resources to meet basic needs such as shelter, food, and transportation. The gains from the added food stamp benefits will ripple through the entire economy. When a family uses its food stamp benefits to shop at a local grocery, this helps the grocer pay his employees and purchase more from his suppliers. That, in turn, helps the suppliers pay their employees (as well as the truckers who deliver their products), and so on.
— Jean Ross