Food Stamps:

Reasons for Nonparticipation

PEMD-89-5BR: Published: Dec 8, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 8, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) determined the reported reasons why eligible households did not participate in the Food Stamp Program; and (2) compared nonparticipation reasons cited by families in 1979 with those cited in 1986.

GAO found that, in 1979 and 1986, respectively: (1) 46.1 percent and 43.8 percent of eligible families participated in the program; (2) 53.8 percent and 50.7 percent of eligible nonparticipants did not apply for benefits, citing ineligibility due to income, assets, or other program requirements; (3) 73.9 percent and 82.8 percent of eligible nonparticipants who thought they were eligible did not attempt to obtain stamps, citing their belief that they did not need them, administrative obstacles, and physical access problems; and (4) 61 percent of eligible nonparticipants who attempted to obtain food stamps were declared ineligible.

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