Food Stamp Recipients Significantly More Likely to Die Than the Average American

Food stamps have long been at the heart of a bitter political debate about the government’s role in social services and the underlying problems affecting low-income Americans and their wellbeing.

By Meredith Rutland Bauer | MOTHERBOARD

A new study sheds more light on that problem—and raises many new questions. Tufts University researchers found that food stamp recipients were twice as likely to die early than the average American. These recipients have incomes at 130 percent below the poverty line or more—a household of two would quality if they are making $1,736 a month or less combined.

The study, published this week in the American Journal for Public Health, said Americans enrolled in the US Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka food stamps, were significantly more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and were three times more likely to die of diabetes. The SNAP program serves 44.5 million people, according to a USDA budget summary.

The study comes after years of cuts to the SNAP program from a Republican-controlled Congress, and there’s a much greater threat to the budget this year. GOP legislators could push for major changes to the program this budget year, after the House Agriculture Committee released a report that considered some states’ eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits too loose, the Associated Press reported. Congress also cut $9 billion from SNAP in 2014.

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