Illinois SNAP numbers don’t add up
August 13, 2013, By Benjamin Yount | Illinois Watrchdog, SPRINGFIELD — When Illinois bragged about only misspending $52 million on food stamps last year, state officials said they didn’t know how many families were given too much and how many were given too little.
But now we know.
Illinois’ overspent on food stamps — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — twice as often as it underspent.
New figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sends SNAP dollars to states, breaks down Illinois’ food stamp errors for the $3 billion sent to the state.
Illinois had an error rate last year of 1.74 percent, resulting in misspending of $52 million.
Of those errors, 1.24 percent was for overspending, which means Illinois sent food stamp recipients $36.9 million more than they were supposed to receive.
The remaining 0.50 percent was underspent, meaning other families were shorted $14.9 million.
“This is a perfect example of somebody not doing their due diligence and not knowing what is owed or supposed to be given out,” said state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Gurnee, the Republican spokesman for the Human Services Committee in the Illinois House. “It’s just very disappointing.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services, which administers SNAP in Illinois, didn’t have a comment about the new numbers.
More than 2 million people in Illinois, or 16 percent of the population, receive food stamps, with the average two-person family unit getting $367 a month for groceries.
Osmond said Illinois has seen an explosion in the number of people receiving help, and she doesn’t think state government is checking to make sure everyone needs that help.
“Let’s make sure that when we are paying them, we’re paying them for the right purpose and to the right people,” Osmond said. “I would support any way of making sure that we scrub the rolls and make sure the people get what they’re owed.”
Illinois was rewarded earlier this summer with a $4 million bonus from the federal government for its SNAP error rate.
Contact Benjamin Yount at Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org or find him on Twitter @BenYount.