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The Food Stamp Program

The United State’s first Food Stamp program — the government assistance plan to provide food to the needy — was created during the Great Depression but phased out in 1943 when it was no longer needed. When the Kennedy Administration reintroduced a pilot test of the program in the early 1960s, it was not universally welcomed back, a division that only increased when the Johnson Administration made the program a permanent part of its “Great Society” a few years later. Though it was a federal assistance program, it was run by the states, which, backed by Republicans in Congress, worried about the administrative costs associated with the rapidly growing program. As various bills were introduced in the 1970s to control costs and refine the eligibility requirements of the burgeoning program, Democratic supporters began to worry too many obstacles were being put in front of families who needed help. But in 1977, Republican Senator Bob Dole and Democratic Senator George McGovern joined forces to support a bipartisan compromise intended to address both sides’ concerns: control costs by more tightly focusing eligibility requirements to the truly needy while also streamlining the program’s purchase processes. In the end, the two senators convinced their colleagues that the legislation they supported could achieve both Democratic and Republican goals — and the 1977 Food Stamp Act became law.

1977-01-01 00:00:00

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