Dispelling 10 Myths About Food Stamps (SNAP)

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By Deborah Willoughby, Information and Refferal Specialist

Getting the right information about food stamps (SNAP) to the people who need them can improve lives.

Food Stamps or SNAP provide much needed relief to people trying to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads or the electricity on. Yet, too many are unsure if they qualify. Or worse, they assume they don’t qualify — a growing problem in a struggling economy.

Here are the top ten misconceptions about SNAP heard by 211info call center specialists:

  1. I can’t get food stamps because I own my house.
  2. I can’t get food stamps because I still have money in my 401(k) account.
  3. I can’t get food stamps because I’m on Social Security.
  4. I can’t get food stamps because it would hurt my credit rating.
  5. I can’t get food stamps because it would come out of my Social Security when I’m older.
  6. I can’t get food stamps because I quit my job.
  7. I can’t get food stamps because I’m unemployed.
  8. I can’t get food stamps because I work part-time.
  9. I can’t get food stamps because I participate in a gleaning program.
  10. I can’t get food stamps because I don’t want my boss to know I’m having money problems.

None of that is true.

Imagine, a simple misconception could be stopping a family from eating tonight. If you know someone who might be eligible for food stamps give them the facts.

Workers at Department of Human Services (DHS) offices in Oregon and Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) offices in Washington look at factors that include your monthly income, housing costs, number of people in a household, immigration status and utility costs when deciding whether you are eligible for food benefits.

In Oregon, you can download a SNAP application and to use a benefits calculator that will help you know if you are eligible and how much you are likely to receive each month. In Washington, you can find information about SNAP on the state website.

211info Statistics

So far this year (January, 01 – May 10, 2010) 211info has received:

4,452 phone calls for SNAP

34% of known callers have been male

66% of known callers have been female

35% of callers have been between the ages of 20-29

24% of callers have been between the ages of 30-39

Multnomah County residents make up the highest volume of callers with 1,733

Washington County is second with 913 callers.

What are some of the myths about social services you have heard?