SNAP Supports Health and Boosts the Economy

A mother and daughter go shopping in the grocery store.

Making the case for raising SNAP benefit levels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government provided billions of dollars in additional funding to prevent hunger and help ensure that children and families have access to healthy, affordable food. Part of the emergency funding is dedicated to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides short-term financial support to low-income individuals and families who struggle to afford food. This brief makes the case for raising SNAP benefit levels during the COVID-19 pandemic and for the duration of the longer-term economic recovery. It also calls for withdrawal of the pending rule changes that would decrease SNAP benefits and take SNAP benefits away from four million people.

Key Findings

SNAP participation is linked with significant, long-lasting benefits for America’s most vulnerable children and families—and the program is proven to boost a lagging economy.  

  • Increasing SNAP expenditures during an economic downturn is one of the most effective fiscal policies for sparking economic activity and jobs.  

  • Participating in SNAP helps reduce food insecurity by as much as 20 percent among adults and 33 percent among children.

  • SNAP boosts children’s health and academic performance. When children have access to SNAP, their risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other poor health outcomes later in life decreases.  

Conclusion

SNAP has a long and successful history of providing temporary help that reduces food insecurity, improves children’s health, lifts people out of poverty, and strengthens the economy. It serves tens of millions of Americans who are vulnerable to hunger and serious health issues linked with poor nutrition.

SNAP will be even more critical to families and children during the COVID-19 pandemic and until the economy stabilizes. 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.