SNAP Hunger

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USDA SNAPThe Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is the federal government’s most important tool for fighting poverty. Cathy Isom looks into why Americans who rely on food stamps are still going hungry.

SNAP Hunger

U.S. White House logo SNAPFrom: White website

Long-Term Benefits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Executive Summary

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of U.S. efforts to alleviate hunger by supplementing the food budgets of low-income households. The large majority of SNAP recipients are children, working parents, elderly Americans, and people with disabilities. SNAP has also played an important role in lifting millions of people—especially children—out of poverty for the past five decades. This report provides an overview of the problem of food insecurity in the United States and the important role that SNAP plays in addressing it. A growing body of high-quality research shows that SNAP is highly effective at reducing food insecurity, and in turn has important short-run and long-run benefits for low-income families. SNAP’s benefits are especially evident and wide-ranging for those who receive food assistance as children; they extend beyond the immediate goal of alleviating hunger and include improvements in short-run health and academic performance as well as in long-run health, educational attainment, and economic self-sufficiency. Despite SNAP’s positive impact, food insecurity remains a serious problem for millions of American households—including nearly one in five households with children. In fact, a growing body of evidence suggests that the benefits are, if anything, too low to allow a family to purchase an adequate, healthy diet. One manifestation of this is the fact that the current level of benefits often cannot sustain families through the end of the month—causing children to go hungry and endangering their health, educational performance, and life chances. Recent research suggests that modestly higher benefit levels would lead to further reductions in food insecurity, and to a wide range of additional short-run and long-run health, educational, and economic benefits.

Read the full report (.pdf)