Welfare and Food Stamps: What Happened Under Each President?

The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, and public assistance, sometimes known as welfare, are two lifelines that millions of American households rely on to avoid starvation and make ends meet.

The programs have operated in some form or another for more than a century, dating back to the New Deal and the Great Depression, when poverty and food insecurity were commonplace across the country.

Fast forward to 2022, and while the necessity for the programs hasn’t changed, the programs themselves have.

FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt) was a president (1933-45)

What happened to the welfare system?

When FDR signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935, he established the country’s first welfare program. The statute gave financial assistance not just to retired workers, but also to their surviving spouses and dependents.

What happened to the food stamps program?

Mabel McFiggin of Rochester, New York, was the first person in America to get food stamps on May 16, 1939. People on “relief” received 50 cents worth of blue stamps for every dollar worth of orange stamps they purchased under the program, which began that year.

The orange stamps could be used to purchase any food. The blue stamps could only be used for food that the government deemed surplus.

Truman, Harry S. (1945-53)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Harry S. Truman had the Fair Deal, much like his predecessor FDR had the New Deal, but he didn’t have nearly as much success putting it into action.

Most of Truman’s initiatives, such as a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, increased Social Security, and new public housing and wage legislation, were never passed by Congress.

What happened to the food stamps program?

Truman signed the National School Lunch Act into law in 1946. Every school day, the program offered youngsters free or low-cost meals.

Welfare and Food Stamps What Happened Under Each President (1)

Eisenhower, Dwight D. (1953-61)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Eisenhower increased the scope of Social Security payments to encompass previously excluded groups and vocations.

He also streamlined the program’s vast bureaucracy by combining the Federal Security Agency with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

What happened to the food stamps program?

PL 86-341 gave the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to run the Food Stamps Program from 1959 through the end of January 1962, but Eisenhower never used the power that the law gave him.

Kennedy, John F. (1961-63)

What happened to the welfare system?

JFK, like his predecessor, increased Social Security benefits. The Public Welfare Amendments of 1962, perhaps more importantly, were implemented under his presidency.

The law altered how the federal government split the cost of rehabilitative programs with welfare recipients, applicants, and persons who were likely to apply for government help.

What happened to the food stamps program?

The first executive order issued by President John F. Kennedy increased food distribution in the United States. He started the Food Stamps pilot program in 1961, which completely redesigned the system.

Recipients were still needed to purchase stamps under the new system, but there were no longer any specific stamps that were just good for leftover food.

Johnson, Lyndon B. (1963-69)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act in August 1964, a package of legislation aimed at improving education, employment, healthcare, and the general well-being of the poorest Americans.

The signing of the Social Security Amendments of 1965, also known as the Medicare and Medicaid Act, by President Lyndon B. Johnson was the most significant expansion of America’s social safety program since FDR signed the Social Security Act in 1935.

Welfare and Food Stamps What Happened Under Each President

What happened to the food stamps program?

The year 1964 was a watershed moment in America’s supplemental nutrition program. The Food Stamp Act of 1964, which Johnson signed, was the crowning achievement of his War on Poverty effort.

The Food Stamp Program was also made permanent by the act.

Nixon, Richard (1969-74)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan would have established an early form of what is now known as basic income, but it was scrapped during the reconciliation process by Congress.

Nixon, on the other hand, was successful in establishing the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

What happened to the food stamps program?

The 1970 amendment to the Food Stamp Act established uniform qualifying rules across the country, as well as standardized allotments and restrictions.

The program was also expanded as a result of the act.

Gerald Ford is a former President of the United States (1974-77)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Ford advocated for comprehensive welfare reform, even mentioning it in his 1976 State of the Union speech, but his ideas never materialized.

What happened to the food stamps program?

PL 93-86 made the Food Stamps Program a national program on July 1, 1974, however it wasn’t completely implemented in Puerto Rico until November of that year.

Carter, Jimmy (1977-81)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Jimmy Carter had enormous ambitions to revamp America’s public assistance system, but none of his initiatives passed Congress.

The Humphrey-Hawkins Act was the one exception, but it was mostly designed to combat inflation, which was the dominating story of the Carter years.

More Updates:

What happened to the food stamps program?

People on public assistance had to pay for discounted food stamps prior to 1977, but that changed when Carter signed the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977.

Food stamps became an entitlement rather than a reduced-price purchase, and the program was expanded to include additional participants.

Ronald Reagan is a former President of the United States (1981-89)

What happened to the welfare system?

Ronald Reagan’s election signaled the beginning of a new economic era marked by trickle-down economics, deregulation, and substantial tax cuts that benefited companies and the rich.

The social safety net was largely impacted by these tax changes. During the Reagan years, practically all major public assistance programs had their budgets slashed or canceled.

What happened to the food stamps program?

In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Congress drastically curtailed funding for the Food Stamp Program, resulting in severe hunger and malnutrition among low-income families in the second half of the decade.

It grew more difficult to qualify for government aid, and the Food Stamp Act of 1985 mandated that all states include job search and training in their nutrition assistance programs by 1987.

George H.W. Bush is a former president of the United States of America (1989-93)

What happened to the welfare system?

“No new taxes” was the theme of President Bush’s single term. As a result, he proposed very little legislation relating to social services.

What happened to the food stamps program?

With the Mickey Leland Memorial Domestic Hunger Relief Act of 1990, food stamps as they had been known since their inception in the 1930s were irrevocably transformed.

Electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards were created to help decrease fraud, and they replaced the paper stamps that had defined the scheme for years.

Bill Clinton is a former President of the United States (1993-2001)

What happened to the welfare system?

With the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, also known as the “Welfare to Work” bill, President Clinton oversaw the most significant transformation of the welfare system in a decade.

The bill terminated welfare as an entitlement program, connected benefits to work, limited the number of times people could receive welfare during their careers, and reduced the federal government’s participation while handing back a lot of responsibility to the states.

What happened to the food stamps program?

The Food Stamps Program underwent significant changes during the Clinton administration, including new disqualification conditions, time limits on how long recipients may receive food stamps and decreases in the maximum amount.

It also ruled out the majority of legal immigrants from participating in the program.

George W. Bush is the president of the United States of America (2001-09)

What happened to the welfare system?

Most of President Bush’s welfare-reform ideas never became law, with the exception of Medicare Part D, which established the program’s first prescription drug benefit.

What happened to the food stamps program?

With the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, legal immigrants and qualifying “aliens” were welcomed back onto the Food Stamps rolls.

The bill also changed funding allocations, altered standard deductions, and simplified the program’s administration. The 2008 Farm Bill effectively eliminated the 70-year-old Food Stamp Program, at least in the name.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was renamed (SNAP).

Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America (2009-17)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Barack Obama enabled states to opt-out of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program’s job requirements. The Department of Health and Human Services, on the other hand, removed that option in 2017.

What happened to the food stamps program?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized an increase in SNAP benefits in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

After that, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 modified the program’s financial structure, reauthorized school nutrition programs, and shifted the focus of SNAP-Ed to stress obesity prevention and physical activity promotion as part of nutrition education.

Many retailer-related and certification amendments were included in the 2014 Farm Bill.

Donald Trump is the president of the United States of America (2017-21)

What happened to the welfare system?

The Trump administration suggested modifications that would have resulted in large budget cuts and a reduction in the number of people eligible for several government assistance programs.

The majority, on the other hand, never went through, owing to legal issues.

What happened to the food stamps program?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Families First Coronavirus Response Act raised SNAP payments by 40% through emergency allotments.

Joe Biden is a former Vice President of the United States (2021-Present)

What happened to the welfare system?

President Biden’s American Families Plan would have provided more than four years of free education, including universal pre-kindergarten and community college, as well as direct assistance to children and families.

Many of the president’s ideas perished in Congress, including the extension of tax cuts for families and employees.

What happened to the food stamps program?

The USDA reevaluated the Thrifty Food Plan and adjusted the SNAP benefits allotment in August 2021. As a result, the average recipient’s payments were increased due to a cost adjustment.

Reply