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What Does an Income Eligibility Guideline Mean?

by GBAF mag

Income Eligibility Guidelines. The federal government set forth income eligibility guidelines (LIH) for the program known as the Food Stamp program (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or better known as SSNP). The guidelines are meant to protect low-income households from extreme financial hardships even if they can’t afford medical care or can’t work. For instance, a family with two working adults who do not earn enough money to provide for an entire family in case of an emergency is obviously going to qualify for food stamps. The same family may not be able to qualify if its income is too low – simply because it doesn’t make enough money to survive.

But how do we know if our income eligibility guidelines are too strict? We can’t just look at one or two items to see if we’re on track. We have to examine all the guidelines to make sure that everyone in our household fits into the standard guidelines. That’s where the Nutrient Labels comes in.

What are these things we’re looking for? The first thing is the Annual Adjustment factor. The AGI is the standard percentage rate that’s applied to our income eligibility formula. It’s a good idea to get an annual review of your AGI by contacting either the Food Stamp Program or your local unemployment office to see if your annual adjustments are too high. The best way to do this is to contact the School Food Authority as well since they do much of the AGI determination for school districts.

The second factor we’re interested in is the Local School Food Authority rating. This is where we compare the local school food authority rating to our recommended adjusted price. If it’s too low, we could be getting too much unhealthy food. If it’s too high, we could be getting too few healthy foods. The local school food authority ratings should always be followed and adjusted according to our recommendations for our family.

The final factor we want to examine is how many food items we purchase from each of the food groups each month. Are all of our staple grocery items from the Price List purchased from the local school food authority? What about our other groceries like: canned goods, frozen food, dried fruits, and snacks? How many times during the week do we buy any of these items from the Price List? This should all be examined in light of our household income eligibility guidelines.

We know the basics. Now we need to go through the other factors. Some of these factors will likely change from year to year as inflation takes hold and overall economic conditions change. Other factors will probably stay the same or increase slightly.

However, for our household income eligibility guidelines, let’s assume that our total income for this year is in the neighborhood of: $60K. Let’s also assume that we’re still single. Our income eligibility guidelines now tell us that we can qualify for a reduced price food package at any one of our local grocery stores if: we have at least one child, we don’t smoke, and we’re not retired. That means that for our present family of four, each of us would need to qualify for: a three, five, or six-month food stamp program to be able to afford to eat out at a regular restaurant or to buy groceries at a reduced-price.

If we increased our income enough to increase our household income enough to move up to the next level, we’d have three children, two of them eligible for subsidized health care, and we’d have to increase our household income further still. So, we have four options for raising a family and keeping the kids out of poverty: If we increase our income eligibility guidelines to: ten thousand dollars a year, we’d still be in good shape as long as we’re not retired and are not unemployed. If we increase our income eligibility guidelines to eleven thousand dollars a year, we’d still be in good shape as long as we’re not unemployed and have one child.

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