Idaho Lawmakers to Take Up Bill That Would Stagger Food Stamp Distribution


In November 2011, a national television audience watched two Treasure Valley families go shopping. It wasn't a happy occasion. The NBC news magazine Rock Center chronicled the families, both from Nampa, as they shopped for food at midnight.

Quite simply, the families were out of food and the minute that their monthly allotment of food assistance becomes available from the State of Idaho—usually at midnight—they head to the grocery store.

The families aren't alone. In fact, the trend has been so significant that Walmart began shoring up its overnight grocery staff.

"A few years back, we started seeing that our customers were showing up at midnight on the first of the month," said Carol Johnston, senior vice president of store operations for Walmart.

Later today, the Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee will take up a bill that proposes issuing food stamps over the course of 10 different but consecutive days, and in 2014, to be distributed over a broader schedule.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says that the price tag to make such a change would be at least $700,000 to start and more than $200,000 to maintain, a price tag that some Statehouse opponents are balking at.