The Real Benefits of SNAP
SNAP benefits are distributed to participants in the program; but the real benefits are the contributions SNAP makes to society as a whole. SNAP has been called “the cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition safety net”, and is one of the most important programs in place to prevent hunger and food insecurity in the United States. The program has also been shown to be an economic boon for the nation, increasing consumer spending in supermarkets and grocery stores across the nation. Here are just some of the positive things that SNAP does.
Hunger and Poverty Prevention
- 92 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes at or below the poverty line, and 56 percent go to households at or below half of the poverty line (about $10,390 for a family of three in 2018)
- According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SNAP kept 8.4 million people out of poverty in 2015, including 3.8 million children.
- SNAP lifted 2 million children above half of the poverty line in 2015, more than any other program.
- According to the USDA, SNAP participation for 6 months was associated with a 5 to 10 percent decrease in food insecurity, including households with food insecure children.
SNAP participation correlates with economic cycles.
- SNAP benefits are considered one of the fastest and most effective forms of economic stimulus.
- An additional $5 of SNAP benefits generates $9 in total economic activity
- According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, each $1 billion of retail generated by SNAP creates $340 million in farm production, $110 million in farm value-added, and 3,300 farm jobs
- Every $1 billion of SNAP benefits also creates 8,900-17,900 full-time jobs
- For every $1 billion in cuts to SNAP funding, 11,437 jobs would be destroyed
- 83% of SNAP benefits, equal to $53.4 billion, were spent at 36,500 supermarkets around the U.S.; the remaining 17% was spent at 180,000 small retail stores (including grocery stores, farmers’ markets, wholesalers, and meal services), for a total of $11 billion
- SNAP beneficiaries spend more dollars on food in local stores than eligible non-participants
- An increase in SNAP participation by 5% would result in 2.2 million low-income Americans receiving $859 million in SNAP benefits, generating $1.5 billion in nationwide economic activity
- Measured as a share of the economy (gross domestic product or GDP), SNAP spending fell by 7 percent in 2016 and another 8 percent in 2017, and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that it will return to the 1995 level in the next few years. As it is now, SNAP is not contributing to long-term budgetary pressures
SNAP and the Recession
- SNAP is considered the most effective and responsive federal program to provide assistance during economic downturns
- Participation in the SNAP program correlates with periods of economic expansion and retraction; so when the economy suffers, SNAP can provide an immediate and temporary safety net for individuals who lose their jobs (and sustain consumer spending at the same time)
- SNAP provided $4.3 billion in additional economic stimulus in 2009.
- Every $1 increase in SNAP benefits during 2009 generated an estimated $1.79-$1.84 in economic activity
- SNAP delivered more than $40 billion in economic stimulus through the Recovery Act benefit increases
Cultivation of Self-Sufficiency
- SNAP benefits help American workers meet nutritional needs, meaning they are more likely to be productive and will take fewer sick days
- 50% of all new entrants to the SNAP program will leave the program within 9 months as they become more financially stable
- SNAP benefits help individuals leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program by supporting their transition to economic independence
- SNAP benefits decrease by only 24-36 cents for every additional dollar of income (much less than most federal programs), thus encouraging SNAP recipients to work more or find jobs with better pay
- SNAP is one of the most efficient emergency response programs maintained by the government, serving as a first responder in the event of natural disasters
- The temporary Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits provide essential food assistance to vulnerable households and non-participants affected by the disaster
- In 2017, SNAP helped households affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. (2018, February 13). Policy Basics: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from: https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/policybasics-foodstamps.pdf
USDA/FNS. Measuring the effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation on food security (summary). Retrieved from https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/Measuring2013Sum.pdf
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). Retrieved from: http://www.results.org/issues/supplemental_nutrition_assistance_program/
Policy Basics: Introduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=2226
Feeding America. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Retrieved from: http://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/advocate/federal-hunger-relief-programs/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Leftin, J., Eslami, E. & Strayer, M. (2011). Trends in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates: Fiscal Year 2002 to Fiscal Year 2009. USDA/FNS.
Ratcliffe, C. & McKernan, S-M. (2010). How Much Does SNAP Reduce Food Insecurity? The Urban Institute. Report No. 60. http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412065_reduce_food_insecurity.pdf
USDA/FNS. The Benefits of Increasing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (Snap) Program Participation in Your State. Retrieved from: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/bc_facts.pdf
USDA/FNS. The Business Case for Increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation. http://origin.www.fns.usda.gov/snap/outreach/business-case.htm