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SNAP Helps Millions on Thanksgiving — and Every Day

As many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by sharing an elaborate meal with friends and family, it’s important to remember that many other Americans lack the resources to meet basic food needs.  Fortunately, millions of Americans can count on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, to help them afford a nutritionally adequate diet.  Here are five facts about SNAP and the people it serves:

  • SNAP serves particularly vulnerable families.  Some 87 percent of SNAP recipients are in households with a child under age 18, an elderly person 60 years or older, or a disabled individual.
  • SNAP benefits are targeted on very low-income families.  Some 92 percent of benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line (roughly $20,000 for a family of three in 2015); 57 percent go to households with incomes below half of the poverty line.
  • SNAP lifts millions out of poverty.  SNAP lifts 10.3 million people out of poverty, including 4.9 million children.  (These figures correct for the underreporting of benefits in the Census Bureau survey.)
  • SNAP helps many low-wage working families.  More than half of SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult work while receiving SNAP; more than 80 percent work in the year before or after receiving SNAP. 
  • SNAP benefits are extremely modest.  Benefits average about $1.40 per person per meal.

These figures tell a compelling story about the extraordinary need of millions of Americans.  Thankfully, SNAP is available to help them.