UR Political Science Professor Awarded Funding to Advance Book Project on History of America's Food Stamp Program

December 9, 2019

Roof-InlineUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Tracy Roof, associate professor of political science, has been awarded $5,250 from Virginia Humanities and $1,220 from the Princeton University Library for her new book project exploring the history of food stamps in America. 

Roof’s book project, Nutrition, Welfare, or Work Support? A Political History of the Food Stamp Program will trace the evolution of the food stamp program from efforts to establish it as a permanent program during the 1940s to the sustained expansion of the program during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“The history of the food stamp program can explain certain features that people don't fully understand today,” said Roof. “For example the Trump administration recently proposed converting part of the SNAP benefit into a grocery delivery system. But the food stamps program was actually created in the 1960s to replace a program that relied on direct food distribution because the stamp approach was cheaper and more efficient. Understanding this history can better inform the current debates about reforming the program.”

The Virginia Humanities award will fund a residency at the Library of Virginia. Princeton’s funding will pay for Roof’s travel to New Jersey to study archives on Senator George McGovern, who chaired the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs in the 1960s and co-sponsored a bill in the mid-70s that resulted in substantial growth in the food stamps program.