Senior Research Analyst
SNAP (formerly food stamps) lifted 4.7 million Americans out of poverty in 2014, essentially the same as in 2013, today’s Census data using the Supplemental Poverty Measure show. This figure shows SNAP’s powerful role in helping low-income families obtain adequate food and direct their meager resources towards other necessities.
SNAP responds to the economy, expanding during downturns as poverty and hardship increase and then contracting as economic circumstances improve. SNAP caseloads rose significantly in the recession and have begun to decline in recent years, though they remain high.
Some point to the elevated caseloads as evidence that SNAP isn’t working as it should, but other data Census released today help explain why it hasn’t declined more: many low-income people have yet to benefit from the recovery. The poverty rate remained well above pre-recession levels in 2014 and inflation-adjusted median income remained well below pre-recession levels; both measures were statistically unchanged since 2013. Similarly, we’ve pointed out that the share of Americans having difficulty affording adequate food remained high in 2014.
SNAP helps struggling families, including a growing number of working families, stay out of poverty and put food on the table.