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SNAP Reduces Poverty – and More

April 9, 2012 at 11:22 PM

The Agriculture Department (USDA) reported this afternoon that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) lifted 3.4 million Americans out of poverty in 2009.

SNAP reduced poverty by 1.1 percentage points (cutting the poverty rate from 14.3 to 13.2 percent), according to USDA.  SNAP’s poverty-reducing effects were especially strong in 2009 due to temporary benefit increases that President Obama and Congress included in the Recovery Act that year. (The USDA report examined the effect of SNAP on poverty by adding SNAP benefits to the official poverty income measure.)


The Center has long reported on SNAP’s success in reducing poverty and, just today, we posted a "SNAP Chartbook” that highlights that and other features of this key food assistance program.

If you read it, you will also learn that SNAP benefits are modest and that SNAP serves very vulnerable people (see chart), supports working families and those who can’t work, reaches most eligible people (with some important exceptions), is efficient and effective, and represents an important public/private partnership.

View the chartbook.