Good Nutrition is a SNAP

Economic recovery from the Great Recession has come slowly to low-income people and children living in poor households continue to be vulnerable to food insecurity.  Three million households containing children lacked the resources to provide sufficient food or enough quality food sometime during the last year.1

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is helping households access nutritious food and training them to prepare it.

SNAP is America’s flagship food assistance program.  It is a vital source of food and nutrition for families and adults who struggle to put food on the table due to unemployment, underemployment, age, illness or disability.  In 2017, SNAP benefits kept some 3.4 million people above the poverty threshold, according to the 2017 Supplemental Poverty Measure report.2

Food insecurity in the United States declined for the sixth straight year, falling to 11.8 percent of U.S. households in 2017.3  Nonetheless, participation rates in the SNAP are still higher than they were before the Great Recession.4

Of the 41 million people in the SNAP program (June 2018), nearly 20 million are children under the age of 18 and 4.8 million are low-income seniors.5 The average SNAP household received $254 per month to supplement their food spending.

In additional to providing essential food assistance, SNAP is helping these vulnerable groups improve their health and nutrition. Improved nutrition stimulates physical and cognitive development in children and lowers healthcare costs for people of all ages.

SNAP recipients can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at many farmers markets. In 2017, beneficiaries spent $22.4 million at 7,400 farmers markets, an increase of 130 percent from 2012.6  This innovative program supports farmers and stimulates local economies.

SNAP-Ed is a program that works with the nation’s cooperative agricultural extension network to train SNAP recipients how to choose and prepare healthy food and manage food budgets. In Arkansas, where the obesity rates are over 35 percent, SNAP-Ed nutrition education programs were held in 239 schools and 59 counties in 2017, reaching 74 percent of SNAP recipients in the state. Ninety percent of the SNAP-Ed participants said the program increased their understanding of nutrition and 80 percent planned to adopt a healthier lifestyle of better nutrition and more exercise.7 SNAP-Ed evaluations and success stories can be found on the USDA website.

 


 

  1. Steve Davies, “Food insecurity declined in 2017, ERS finds,” Agri-Pulse.com, September 5, 2018.
  2. The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2017, U.S. Census Bureau Economics and Statistics Division, September 2018, https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/p60-265.pdf.
  3. Steve Davies, “Food insecurity declined in 2017, ERS finds,” Agri-Pulse.com, September 5, 2018.
  4. Robert Greenstein, Bynne Keith-Jenning and Dottie Rosenabaum, “Factors Affecting SNAP Caseloads,” Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/factors-affecting-snap-caseloads, August 8, 2018.
  5. “SNAP Helps A Variety of Demographic Groups,” Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, https://www.cbpp.org/snap-helps-a-variety-of-demographic-groups, accessed September 6, 2018.
  6. Harsh, Agri-Pulse.

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