NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

California Has Worst Food Stamp Program, Charges Agriculture Department

March 6, 2003

California gets more money for its food stamp program than any other state in the nation -- and its operations are the worst, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials. The department has even taken the state to court, seeking a $114 million sanction -- following two years of the Golden State's ignoring federal demands to clean up its act.

What is the USDA so upset about? According to the agency:

  • California handed out $200 million in benefits to ineligible recipients.
  • The state also failed to get $75 million in benefits to those who were eligible.
  • The state's food stamp error rate hit 17.4 percent recently, although California claims it is only 14.4 percent -- which would still be the highest in the nation.
  • California gets $1.6 billion in federal food stamp funding annually -- a considerable chunk of the $20 billion given out to the 50 states each year.

California blames the state's large immigrant population for the high proportion of errors. Legal immigrants are entitled to food stamps, while illegals are not -- and often both inhabit the same households. This, officials say, leads to confusion.

Source: Sean Higgins, "California Food Aid Program Called Worst in U.S. by Government," Investor's Business Daily, March 5, 2003.


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