The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) authorized $1.14 billion in additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) administrative funding over three years to help state agencies meet community needs and advance equity for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While COVID-19 ARPA funding helped accommodate the nutrition needs of individuals enrolled in SNAP, focus groups with 10 state administrators revealed important timing and capacity building limitations that should be addressed in future grants aiming to improve equity.
Policies that increased SNAP benefits played an important role in keeping nearly 2.3 million people out of poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State administrators used technology and process improvements—including updating outdated eligibility systems, implementing community feedback, and identifying areas where technology doesn’t exist—to improve access to SNAP.
Due to the short funding cycles and requirement to return unused funds, state administrators did not see ARPA funding as an opportunity to drive long-term equity improvements.
State administrators identified community voice as a crucial part of advancing equity. However, states found the long-term nature of community engagement challenging to incorporate into their ARPA projects.
Longer proposal development periods, increased flexibility in timing and funding structure, and state capacity building were identified as recommendations for future grants hoping to improve equity.
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SNAP Fell Short in Helping Families Afford Rising Food Prices in 2022
Due to unprecedented food inflation, SNAP benefits fell short in helping families afford the rising food prices in 2022.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
SNAP provides short-term financial support to individuals and families furthest from economic opportunity who struggle to afford food.