Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The ability to access healthy, affordable food is vital to a person’s overall health and well-being.

A woman shops for fresh produce in a grocery store.

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides short-term financial support to individuals and families furthest from economic opportunity who struggle to afford food.

As the nation’s largest nutrition program, SNAP helps roughly 43 million people access foods and beverages to support a healthy diet. SNAP is extremely effective at increasing food security, improving children’s health and academic performance, supporting economic growth, and lifting people out of poverty.  

In 2021, SNAP received the largest permanent benefits boost in its history. For the average SNAP participant, it will mean an extra $36 per month, a roughly 27 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. The increase came through updates to the Thrifty Food Plan, a tool used to calculate SNAP benefits based on food costs, dietary guidance, and nutrition content. This boost will help ensure millions of people have enough in benefits to feed their families through the entire month, further combating food insecurity. 

Hunger remains a pressing issue for millions of people living in the United States, furthering racial and ethnic health disparities by overwhelmingly impacting communities of color and those with low incomes. No one should be forced to make impossible choices between buying food, paying the rent, and purchasing medications. There is so much more to do to strengthen and modernize our nutrition assistance programs and policies and we must continue to take an evidence-based approach to addressing food insecurity across the United States.

Increasing Access to SNAP to Advance Health Equity

This brief provides an overview of SNAP and its impacts, an explanation of the latest policy developments, and recommendations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for strengthening the impact of SNAP.

Read the brief

Related Content

Featured Content

SNAP Supports Health and Boosts the Economy

SNAP provides short-term financial support to low-income individuals and families who struggle to afford food.

grantee resources

Does SNAP Cover the Cost of a Meal in Your County?—Earlier this year, the maximum SNAP benefit level fell short of meal costs in 96 percent of U.S. counties. After an historic increase in benefits that rolled out on October 1, that share fell to 21 percent.

State of Childhood Obesity SNAP Overview—SNAP helps children and families suffering from food insecurity and can benefit children’s health and academic performance. Learn more on the State of Childhood Obesity site.  

Persistent Gaps in SNAP Benefit Adequacy across the Rural-Urban Continuum—The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced changes to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) which will lead to a historic 21 percent benefit increase for SNAP participants. 

Promoting Equitable Expansion of the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot—An online food purchasing program helped increase SNAP participants’ access to healthy foods. This brief provides recommendations for equitable expansion of the program. 

Strengthening the Public Health Impacts of SNAP: Key Opportunities for the Next Farm Bill—SNAP is our nation's largest federal nutrition safety net. This report explores evidence-based recommendations for strengthening the program and addressing growing food insecurity across the country.

You may also like:
Learn how RWJF is working with other organizations to help establish the building blocks for good health, and foster well-being in family and community settings.
Stable, affordable health coverage for people in the United States is the starting point to improving health outcomes.
RWJF's health equity toolkit provides resources, data, and examples of communities working to achieve better health for all.