Three Facts: What SNAP Means for Families and Communities

March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm

The Washington Post’s in-depth story on how SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) helps the residents and economy of Woonsocket, Rhode Island highlights many of the same points as our extensive SNAP chart book.  Three facts in particular stand out.

  1. Work rates among SNAP households that can work are high. SNAP has become increasingly effective in supporting work among households that can work, like the example of Rebecka and Jourie Ortiz in the Post story.  Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP, and more than 80 percent work in the year before or after receiving SNAP.  Work rates are even higher for families with children:  more than 60 percent work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90 percent work in the year before or after receiving it (see chart).
  2. SNAP enables households to buy nutritious foods. The purchasing patterns of SNAP households mirror those of other low- and moderate-income households.  SNAP recipients spend over 85 percent of benefits on fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and meat alternatives.
  3. SNAP provides an economic boost to the community. Retailers in Woonsocket, and in town and cities throughout the nation, rely on the food purchases that households make with their SNAP benefits.  In fact, SNAP provides one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus during an economic downturn.  Economists estimate that in a weak economy, for every dollar that households redeem under SNAP, the gross domestic product grows by about $1.70.  The Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.

Policymakers should keep these facts in mind when considering the impact of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s proposal to cut SNAP by nearly a fifth over the next decade.

Print Friendly

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

Comments are listed in reverse chronological order.

  1. Leslie Weinberg #

    I have worked with RESULTS ( and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee ( to lessen Extreme Poverty and Hunger here and around the world. Many members of Congress, as well as others who have tried to show the need for SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)by trying to follow the SNAP Budget for a week or more. Many found paying for nutritious or Fresh foods such as Fruits and Vegetables difficult. Buying in Bulk people may not be able to afford, if they qualify for SNAP. If one is supposed to spend only around $36 per person a week, someone would need help from Soup Kitchens, Food Pantries, and Social Service agencies that had access to Food Banks in addition.

    Some parts of the country are even more costly to live in than elsewhere. It appears SNAP does not take that into consideration.

    How and when were the costs and regulations for SNAP developed? Certainly if it was during the time of President Johnson, when he began a “War Against Hunger” the expenses have increased.

Your Comment

Comment Policy:

Thank you for joining the conversation about important policy issues. Comments are limited to 1,500 characters and are subject to approval and moderation. We reserve the right to remove comments that:

  • are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate;
  • contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs;
  • solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites or to sell products or services;
  • may infringe the copyright or intellectual property rights of others or other applicable laws or regulations; or
  • are otherwise inconsistent with the goals of this blog.

Posted comments do not necessarily represent the views of the CBPP and do not constitute official endorsement by CBPP. Please note that comments will be approved during the Center's business hours. If you have questions, please contact

six × = 6

 characters available