SNAP benefits residents and businesses

By Art Warner, Guest Columnist

Although the food stamp editorial July 7, and the responding letter to the editor July 21, were timely and clarifying, they did not include a very important element that is an integral part of the Food Stamp (SNAP) program. The missing part is the effect the program has on the many businesses, and the resulting related jobs, that benefit directly from the SNAP program.

To illustrate: The SNAP recipient receives an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card which they take to a grocery store to buy only food, or plants and seeds to grow food for the household. (No cash is involved.) The store owner then receives payment from the federal government for the food, plants or seeds.

To stock the shelves in the store, the grocer uses the SNAP payment to buy food items from a wholesale company, which buys food from a processing company, which buys food from a producer (farmer).

Each of these businesses hires employees, pays taxes, buys equipment and supplies, purchases services, such as electricity, fuel, insurance, pays for needed repairs and upkeep, transportation costs and other expense items. Keep in mind that the employees of all these businesses also spend their wages to pay similar expenses as they support their families.

A report issued by the Minnesota Department of Human Services shows that, in 2012, Morrison County had a monthly average of 1,386 cases, serving 2,985 persons, each receiving $107 in SNAP benefits. That’s a little over 9 percent of our county using $3.820 million in SNAP benefits in 2012 to buy food from businesses. If a conservative multiplier factor of four is applied, that’s over $15 million, just in Morrison County, that was used to provide food for low income families and to help support businesses and their employees last year.

What effect would it have here in Morrison County if we were to stop providing nourishment for low income people, and take over $15 million out of the business sector?

Art Warner is a resident of Little Falls.