The San Juan Daily Star
New study reinforces positive impact in PR of a transition to SNAP
By The Star Staff
As a study released Tuesday shows, the disparity between Puerto Rico residents and U.S. citizens on the mainland may be erased if Puerto Rico were to transition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Puerto Rico Institute for Economic Liberty (ILE by its Spanish initials) released a public policy report on the potential shift from the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP, or PAN by its Spanish acronym) to SNAP in Puerto Rico.
The report, titled “From NAP to SNAP: A Bridge to Economic Liberty for Residents of Puerto Rico,” emphasizes that the implementation of SNAP will increase the number of beneficiaries in Puerto Rico and correct disparities in treatment between U.S. citizens residing on the island and those living in the States and other territories. It also emphasizes the agility with which SNAP would address Puerto Rico’s needs when faced with natural events such as Hurricane Fiona or another pandemic.
The document explains the origin, characteristics and operation of the federal government’s block grant currently received by the island for PAN. In addition, it compares and contrasts its limitations with the SNAP benefit system.
The document highlights that ILE “also favors the transition to SNAP as it assists people in times of need while encouraging them to be productive when their circumstances allow it.”
“Its important work requirement would be advantageous for eligible participants as it makes it easier for them to join the labor force, provide for themselves and their families, and contribute to the reconstruction of Puerto Rico for a prosperous and sustainable future,” the report said.
“Our study found that nearly 250,000 people could be inserted into the labor force while continuing to receive the assistance they need until they can overcome dependency. SNAP makes it easier for beneficiaries to take advantage of current job opportunities,” ILE CEO Jorge L. Rodríguez said. “We must encourage and motivate people to work and realize their dreams and aspirations while contributing to Puerto Rico’s recovery, thanks to the federal funds allocated to the island for those purposes.”
The number of people noted by Rodríguez stems from a preliminary estimate of the potential number of people in Puerto Rico who could participate in the labor force by switching from PAN to SNAP. The calculation made as part of the report relies on population and working group survey data from the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources in 2022. In addition, the calculation centers on people between the ages of 18 and 49 who do not have dependents, are not pregnant and are subject to the general work requirements according to SNAP parameters.
With the report, which was prepared by Dr. Ángel Carrión Tavárez, ILE’s director of research and policy, “ILE inserts itself into the marketplace of ideas and public policy dialogue for the development of Puerto Rico, with research, studies, data and critical analysis framed in classical liberalism — the economic, moral and political philosophy that is the foundation of the Constitution and laws of Puerto Rico and the United States,” Rodríguez said.
Created in 2019, the Puerto Rico Institute for Economic Freedom is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that seeks to provide opportunities and enable the prosperity of all residents of Puerto Rico in a market economy.