The first food stamp program started on May 16, 1939. The program was implemented due to widespread unemployment and food surpluses. People on government relief programs could purchase orange stamps in an amount equivalent to their normal food costs.
The orange stamps had a value of $1. For each orange stamp a person received, the government also issued a blue stamp worth 50 cents. Blue stamps could only be used to purchase surplus foods, while orange stamps could be used to purchase any type of food.
Congress passed the Food Stamp Act in 1964. Its purpose was to improve the agricultural sector and increase the quality of nutrition of low income households.