Masters thesis

The political history of the Food Stamp Program during the Carter and Reagan administrations, 1977 to 1988

Thesis (M.A., History)--California State University, Sacramento, 2019.

This study examines the political history of the Food Stamp Program. I place this study in the historiography of the welfare state and of social welfare retrenchment in the 1970s and 1980s analyze public policy, government institutions, and political actors in regards to social change. The Carter administration’s Food Stamp Act of 1977 reformed the program’s foundational policy of recipients paying for their food stamps to free food stamps. Consequentially, political discourse changed from a social security type program to a public assistance program. The Reagan administration passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, which contained deep cuts to food stamp eligibility and allotments. Economic downturns in the 1980s stressed federal and local food aid and growing political consensus that a hunger problem had emerged resulting from cuts in the Food Stamp Program. Democrat and Republican politicians and the media had created political pressure to relieve hunger through the Hunger Prevention Act of 1988.

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