Food stamps get a new name in Minnesota


Remember food stamps? They’re not called that anymore.

What they are called is something of a problem.

When the program got started in April 1939, the name made sense. Food stamps were actually orange and blue stamps people could use to buy food.

After the federal government moved from paper coupons to electronic cards, it changed the name of the program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. That 2008 change was intended to reduce the stigma that food stamps carried. The idea was to identify food stamps as a nutritional program, not welfare.

Meanwhile, most people kept calling them food stamps.

And for some reason, Minnesota officials who administer the program went with “Food Support.”

When I write about this program, I generally go with something like this:

“More than 500,000 Minnesotans are now on Food Support, known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and formerly as food stamps.”

No editor likes that.

On Tuesday, state Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson announced that Minnesota will change to align with the federal name: SNAP. She said the name reflects the program’s focus on healthy food for low-income Minnesotans, and will allow the state to take advantage of national promotional materials. Minnesota joins 29 other states that have done the same thing.

Jesson also acknowledged the current name has caused much confusion.

It’s pretty hard to argue with that.