SNAP Supports Children and Families

Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, older adults, and people with disabilities.

How SNAP Brings Long-Lasting Benefits

How SNAP Brings Long-Lasting Benefits

A family stands next to a mobile market.

How SNAP Brings Long-Lasting Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduces food insecurity and brings long-lasting benefits—not just to families, but also to local communities and the entire country. Here are three things you might not know about SNAP; courtesy of Axios.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduces food insecurity and brings long-lasting benefits—not just to families, but also to local communities and the entire country. Here are three things you might not know about SNAP; courtesy of Axios.

How SNAP Brings Long-Lasting Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduces food insecurity and brings long-lasting benefits—not just to families, but also to local communities and the entire country. Here are three things you might not know about SNAP; courtesy of Axios.

Executive Summary

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a critical lifeline for approximately 40 million low-income people across the United States. SNAP has a long and successful history of providing temporary help that reduces food insecurity, lifts people out of poverty, helps families achieve self-sufficiency, and reduces health disparities. Nearly two-thirds of SNAP participants are children, older adults, and people with disabilities. Cuts to the program would have far-reaching ramifications and may disproportionately affect groups like children of color and children in rural communities. Any reforms to SNAP should be driven by analysis of impacts on access, equity, cost, and program outcomes including food security, financial security, and diet quality.

Recommendations

Continue Supporting and Maintaining SNAP

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation believes that SNAP serves a crucial role in protecting our nation’s children and families who are struggling to gain access to necessities like affordable food. To maintain and strengthen SNAP, we offer the following recommendations:

  • Use objective data and economic realities—such as family size, employment levels, wage growth, and food cost—to determine overall SNAP spending, enrollment, and benefit levels.

  • Expand SNAP-ED and financial incentive programs to encourage participants to purchase more fruits and vegetables and help them make healthier purchases with their benefits.

  • Ensure that any changes to SNAP do not disproportionately affect certain groups, such as children of color and children in rural communities.

How SNAP Works: a Critical Lifeline

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3.4 million

The number of people SNAP lifted out of poverty in 2017.

SNAP provides temporary but critical support to help approximately 40 million low-income Americans afford food. It is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program; SNAP funding totaled approximately $70 billion in FY 2017.

SNAP participants can use their benefits to purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers’ markets, and co-op food programs. Family size, citizenship status, total household income, and certain expenses are all calculated together to determine an individual’s eligibility. SNAP benefits are calculated to cover approximately 70 percent of a family’s food budget. In FY 2017, the average SNAP participant received about $126 in monthly benefits, or approximately $1.40 per person per meal. Any child who lives in a SNAP household is also eligible to receive free school meals.

Key Features of SNAP

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2/3 of SNAP participants

are children, older adults, and people with disabilities.

Conclusion

Overall, SNAP makes it easier for families to afford nutritious food without having to sacrifice health care or other basic needs. The program:

  • Lifts millions of people out of poverty and helps them stay out. SNAP helps recipients avoid poverty and hunger. The program lifted 3.4 million people out of poverty in 2017.
  • Boosts children’s health. When children have access to SNAP, from birth through early childhood, their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other poor health outcomes later in life greatly decreases. Children on SNAP can immediately experience a reduction in food insecurity.
  • Helps children perform better in school. Studies have found improved reading and math skills, and an increased chance of graduating from high school.
  • Improves the economy. Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates as much as $9 in economic activity, helping farmers, grocers, truckers, and other members of local and regional workforces.

SNAP should be maintained and supported; any undue barriers to eligibility, enrollment, or utilization should be removed to ensure those who rely on SNAP have access to its benefits. No one in America should go hungry, and no parent in America should have to choose between buying food for their kids or paying the rent.

Policy Contact

For more information or to be connected to a content expert:

Renee Woodside 
rwoodside@rwjf.org
202-243-7000

Related Resources

SNAP helps children and families suffering from food insecurity have a better chance at staving off poor health outcomes.

Learn more at stateofobesity.org/policy/snap

Proposed Changes to SNAP: Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances and Earned Income

November 15, 2018
SNAP benefits would decrease substantially for some households receiving energy assistance under certain provisions of the House Farm Bill, but increase modestly for working households.

Download the analysis at mathematica-mpr.com

Simulating Proposed Changes to SNAP: Countable Resources and Categorical Eligibility

September 6, 2018
This brief provides insight into how changes to SNAP eligibility requirements could impact SNAP participants, including children, seniors (age 60 or older), and people with disabilities.

Download brief at mathematica-mpr.com

The Impact of Proposed 2018 Changes to Key Safety Net Programs on Family Resources

November 16, 2017
This brief estimates how families may be affected by significant reductions in spending on key programs that provide cash and near-cash resources to low- and middle-income families.

Download brief at urban.org

Does SNAP Cover the Cost of a Meal in Your County?

This data visualization map compares the maximum SNAP benefit per meal with the cost of a low-income meal in 2015.

Explore the data at urban.org