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Round-Up: Everything You Need to Know About SNAP


*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.