Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

Getting the Facts on SNAP


[Editors' note: This post originally appeared on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ blog, Off the Charts (www.offthechartsblog.org).]

We have updated two papers that provide background information on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.

  • Policy Basics: Introduction to SNAP. In 2011, SNAP helped almost 45 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month. Nearly 75 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter are in households with seniors or people with disabilities. While SNAP’s fundamental purpose is to help low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities afford an adequate diet and avoid hardship, it promotes other goals as well, such as reducing poverty, supporting and encouraging work, protecting the overall economy from risk, and promoting healthy eating.
  • SNAP Is Effective and Efficient. SNAP caseloads have risen significantly since late 2007, as the recession and lagging recovery battered the economic circumstances of millions of Americans and dramatically increased the number of low-income households who qualify and apply for help from the program. Yet, despite the rapid caseload growth, SNAP payment accuracy has continued to improve, reaching all-time highs (see graph).  Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that SNAP spending will fall as a share of the economy in coming years as the economy recovers and temporary benefit expansions that Congress enacted in 2009 expire.

Dottie-rosenbaumDottie Rosenbaum is a senior policy analyst focusing primarily on federal and state issues in the Food Stamp Program as well as issues that involve the coordination of food stamps and other state-administered health and income security programs, such as Medicaid, TANF, and child care.


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As a society we love labels – just look at all the options on your facebook to declare your relationship status. But labels can be very excluding and inflexible. There’s no label for “I try to eat vegetarian but if you offer me a bite of your shrimp tempura, I can’t say no.” The idea behind “weekday vegetarianism” is just what it sounds like – not giving up on your favorite meat options, yet making a commitment to lower your meat intake.

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