Round-Up: Everything You Need to Know About SNAP

July 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

*This blog was updated August 5, 2013.

The recent disclosure that House Republican leaders plan to move a bill in September that doubles — to $40 billion over ten years — their proposed cuts in SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps) and drops up to 4 million more poor people from the program is the latest startling development on this front. The new proposal is stunningly harsh, as CBPP President Bob Greenstein explained in a statement.

That proposal comes after the House of Representatives broke last month from the long-standing, bipartisan practice of pairing food assistance and agriculture programs when it passed a stand-alone farm bill reauthorizing agriculture programs, but removed SNAP from the legislation.

As Bob Greenstein noted, this “deeply disturbing” move could have profound consequences for SNAP.

Below is a compilation of analyses and blog posts that provide background about the SNAP program:

SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013
Revised August 2, 2013

The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to SNAP benefits is scheduled to end on November 1, 2013, resulting in a benefit cut for every SNAP household. For families of three, the cut will be $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014. That’s a serious loss, especially in light of the very low amount of basic SNAP benefits. Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014.

SNAP Enrollment Remains High Because the Job Market Remains Weak
Revised July 30, 2013

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the food stamp program) historically has been the most responsive federal program after unemployment insurance in assisting families and communities during economic downturns. The recent downturn was no exception. While SNAP enrollment growth has slowed substantially in the last year, national enrollment is at an all-time high Some critics have claimed that the fact that SNAP enrollment has not declined in tandem with the recent decline in the unemployment rate indicates most of SNAP’s enrollment growth of recent years is not related to the economy. The reality, however, is that SNAP enrollment and costs are high because the job market remains weak.

Policy Basics: Introduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
March 28, 2013

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.  In 2012, it helped almost 47 million low-income Americans to afford a nutritionally adequate diet in a typical month.  Nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.

SNAP Is Effective and Efficient
January 29, 2013

In recent years SNAP has achieved impressive results in meeting the needs of low-income Americans while maintaining strong program integrity and payment accuracy.

  • SNAP has responded effectively to the recession.
  • The recent growth in SNAP spending is temporary.
  • SNAP reaches a high share of people who are eligible.
  • SNAP payment accuracy is at all-time highs.

BLOG POST: SNAP Responded to the Recession and Will Shrink as the Economy Improves
May 15, 2013

SNAP spending rose considerably when the recession hit.  That’s precisely what SNAP was designed to do:  quickly help more low-income families during economic downturns as poverty rises, unemployment mounts, and more people need assistance.  As the economy has recovered, SNAP caseload and spending growth have slowed substantially.

The Relationship Between SNAP and Work Among Low-Income Households
January 29, 2013

SNAP’s primary purpose is to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households in order to improve their nutrition and alleviate hunger and malnutrition.  The program’s success in meeting this core goal has been well documented.  Less well understood is the fact that the program has become quite effective in supporting work and that its performance in this area has improved substantially in recent years.

Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table
March 28, 2013

This chart book highlights some of the key characteristics of the approximately 46 million people using the program as well as trends and data on program administration and use.

BLOG POST: New Research Shows SNAP, Facing Big Cuts in the House, Reduces Extreme Poverty
June 17, 2013

New research shows that SNAP is the most effective program pushing against the steep rise in extreme poverty.

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12 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. Jillian #

    I am searching for help. I am a Veteran, and have been told many of times that I am not eligible for SNAP due to me tax free disability. I am told that the income goes by gross and or net, both of which I am under. If I am under the income limits, why can I not receive SNAP for my family of 3? I was going to school, doing something with my life, not just waiting on the funds. Any amount helps! I see plenty of people that do NOTHING literally and get the aid. A personal friend of mine does that. It is sad. I am looking for any information that states because I receive tax free money and still fall below the limits that I am not able to receive the SNAP. I don’t have enough room on here to keep sharing but please fee free to email me with questions, or help. I really appreciate it.

    • CBPP #

      Thank you for your question. We are sending you information directly.

  2. Gregory Strong #

    The reality is that there is a small percentage of recipients that abuse the public trust. That fact however, should not detract from the more obvious fact, which is that by and large, SNAP recipients are the working poor, children, the elderly, and the disabled. We need to stop blowing out of proportion the few, and continue to care for the many. I will gladly serve a few abusers in order to not miss one single child, senior, or disabled person.

    The argument that someone buys crab meat or candy is, quite frankly, rather stale. And really statistically irrelevant unless you want to dash the entire system, regardless of need. The truth is that working families need the little bit of help they get. I know, because they’re my neighbors, and they arrive in massive numbers at food pantries and banks near the end of the month.


  3. 4

    I have to say, that I almost fell out my chair reading these comments! I think it is insane to say that because you work you have to buy ground beef, but people receiving assistance should only be allowed to buy chicken and fish! How supremacist and separatist is that? Sue, we cant wait to hear about the results of that experiment propositioned by Gail J.

  4. Sue Ellen Holmstrand #

    Why don’t you create a graph showing how much of SNAP money is spent on soda, chips, cookies, candy, etc. and how much is spent at Farmer’s Markets? Don’t say the information is unavailable. Anytime someone tries to limit what SNAP recipients spend the money on the food corporations scream about how we are allowing people to go hungry. Fix the food stamp program and it will have more support from the general public.

    • chc #

      There should be some control on what people receiving SNAP can purchase. I agree with an earlier reply concerning “junk” foods. If a person is not working, why do they need lobster, shrimp, T-Bone steaks, crab? Why not place a cap, create a list of foods that can be brought? Let them get chicken & fish. I work 365 and have to buy ground beef, can’t think about lobster!! I see people in the store with one buggy of junk food and another buggy with brand-name, high end meats, all brand name items. Instead of cutting the benefit, put a cap on what can be bought. IE: Create a systematic way to control how much a person can spend on meats (chicken & fish only) and junk foods. This would help the program and help people lose weight. Some people need money to buy household supplies, do a cap allotment for specific household supplies per month. A well-balance diet does not consist of high-end foods and junk foods. People are selling their benefits to get money to pay bills, buy alcohol, cigarettes and household supplies. Not sure what can be done about this. I really think if caps and specifications are placed on what is bought, more people may start looking for work and more thought would be put into family size. The SNAP program helps a lot of people that are in need, it is not for high income people buying benefits from the low income recipients. I work with senior citizens and I’m very upset about their benefits being cut (ie $16.00)
      CREATE FOCUS GROUPS! I’ll help

    • Gail Dering #

      You first. How much do you spend on cookies, candy, soda? How often do you go to the farmers market? How often do you eat out? Why does someone on SNAP have to change their diet and start eating healthy when they never did before and won’t when they stop receiving? Quit snooping in other people’s baskets and at their method of payment. Your portion of their bill is not even a penny.

      • Robert Freed #

        Thank you, Gail Dering. You are of course right. There is a mean spirited aversion to helping down and out people (even the disabled, the elderly, and young) in our country today. Is there waste, yes. But let’s not throw out the baby . . . .

    • Gail Johnson #

      Sue– You seem to believe that a lot of money goes for junk food. Where does your information come from and why don’t you share it?
      If you do not have this information, how you can be sure that your beliefs are true? That raises another question–how can you have a position on a public program without have the data to back it up?
      Better yet, why don’t you try living on the equivalent of food stamps for your size family for one month, keeping track of what you buy–including purchases from the farmers market–and see whether you can buy enough food for the month and then assess how well it compares to a healthy diet? No eating out.

    • Steven Baker #

      Exactly how many Farmers Markets do you suppose are in poor areas where most SNAP recipients are? Are they next to the Whole Food Stores they always build in poor areas?

    • diana #

      I know that SNAP cannot be spent on candy. I have bought candy for children whose mothers paid for groceries with food stamps and could not purchase the candy while waiting in line.

    • Susan Talbot #

      If you are so sure that SNAP users are gorging themselves on cookies, chips and soda, then YOU write the article and stop spouting right-wing, anti-poor garbage. I’d LOVE to see your “statistics” that are “out there”! NOBODY goes nuts buying food of ANY kind on SNAP because the amount you get is so paltry. And as for those in cities: how are they supposed to get to farmers’ markets, without a car or bus fare to travel to the farms?!

      This harsh, oppressive way of “thinking”, this level of prejudice against the poor and propping up of the rich is disgusting at best, and revolution-producing at work. KIDS ARE GOING HUNGRY! But you don’t give a damn as long as you have your designer clothes, new SUV, widescreen TV and gourmet food! GET REAL!

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