Senior Research Analyst
SNAP (formerly food stamps) kept 4.8 million people above the poverty line in 2013, including 2.1 million children, our analysis of Census data released today shows (see graph). The figures are based on Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure, which — unlike the official poverty measure — includes non-cash benefits (like SNAP) and taxes as well as cash income.
By providing low-income families with resources to buy food, SNAP not only reduces “food insecurity” (difficulty affording adequate food) but also frees up room in their very tight budgets to cover other necessities, such as rent and clothing.
SNAP has an especially pronounced impact on poverty among the poorest families with children: close to half (45 percent) of SNAP participants are children, and SNAP benefits are targeted to the poorest households. In 2013, SNAP kept 1.3 million children out of “deep poverty” (incomes below half of the poverty line, or roughly $9,800 for a family of three).