Online petition aims to get pet food covered on food stamps

There is an online petition going around and generating a lot of interest. It is calling on lawmakers to make changes to the food stamp laws to include pet food.

The petition is on a website called Care2 and was created by Edward B. Johnston Jr.

Johnston titled the petition “Don’t Let Pets Starve – Include Pet Food in SNAP Benefits!” and wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Services to make changes.

SNAP in California is known as CalFresh.

Johnston wrote he has been on benefits for a few months now and is struggling to feed his dog. He claims he is not alone and hopes others will join in on his fight.

According to an USDA spokesperson, “The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 defines eligible food as any food or food product for home consumption by SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) households. Nonfood items such as pet foods are ineligible for purchase with SNAP benefits under current federal law.”

“Each year, over 40 million low- or no-income people in the United States rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help purchase food for themselves and their families. It is the most wide-reaching program in the domestic hunger safety net, helping keep millions of families from starving,” he wrote. “But what about their pets? Unfortunately, SNAP benefits cannot be used to buy pet food, leaving poor families with pets in a difficult position.I am one of those Americans. I have only been on SNAP benefits for a few months, but I have been unable to feed my little dog due to government regulations.”

The petition has over 115, 000 signatures.

However, even if they reach their goal of 120,000 signatures there would not be any immediate action.

Joshua Hernandez, a program manager with the Fresno County Department of Social Services, said he just recently learned about this petition.

He noted that their is not much his department can do locally to change the rules to the program, even if the petition has received thousands of signatures.

Hernandez said they understand there is a need, but all they can do is refer families to other agencies that can help. He added in Fresno County 91,000 people receive non-assistance or public assistance CalFresh. It’s unclear how many of them own pets.

“We are guided by federal government rules and state rules,” he said. “At this point we are only allowed to issue benefits for families (people)”.

Hernandez added, “I would imagine once they get their signatures they would have to go to Congress…

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