Food Assistance Analyses by Category
Food Stamp Benefits Falling Further Behind Rising Food Prices

USDA data show food stamp benefits fall short of the cost of a minimally adequate diet Food stamp benefit levels are supposed to be sufficient to enable households to afford the 'Thrifty Food Plan,' a low-cost but nutritionally adequate diet established by USDA."


Food Stamps: Analyses and Background
Food Stamps in the States

Food Stamps in the StatesThe Food Stamp Program has made severe hunger rare in America. These fact sheets outline how the Food Stamp Program helps people in each state. Learn more...

Making America Stronger commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Food Stamp Program by telling the story of how food stamps ended the problem of severe hunger in our country.
Click here to watch it


What is the Food Stamp Program?

The Food Stamp Program is the nation's most important food assistance program, especially for children. It provides more substantial nutrition assistance to low‑income children than all of the nation's child nutrition programs combined. More than half of all food stamp participants are children, and over 80 percent of food stamp benefits go to families with children. Furthermore, the Food Stamp Program is the only social program that creates a national benefit floor under nearly all categories of poor households, assisting low-income children and their families as well as low‑income elderly, disabled and unemployed individuals.

Moreover, food stamps serve as an important work support by helping low‑wage workers make ends meet. Leaders from across the political spectrum haxve agreed that a family supported by a full‑time, year‑round, minimum-wage worker should not have to live in poverty. Such a family, however, will fall short of the poverty line by 25 percent, even after counting the Earned Income Tax Credit, if the family does not receive food stamps. And because food stamps (unlike the EITC) come to families throughout the year, they can help these families meet monthly expenses.

WIC and Child Nutrition

What is WIC?

WIC � short for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children � provides nutritious foods, information on healthy eating, and health care referrals to about 8 million low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under five. WIC provides vouchers that may be used at grocery stores to buy specific nutrient-rich foods. About 47 percent of all babies born in the United States participate in WIC.

Each year states save $1.5 billion in federal WIC funds through the use of a competitive bidding process to purchase infant formula for their WIC programs. As a result, over the past 15 years, WIC food costs per participant have risen at only half the rate of grocery store food prices. Food costs, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, have risen 50 percent, while WIC food costs per participant have risen 25 percent.

Changes to the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs

The School Lunch and School Breakfast programs provide free and reduced-price meals that meet federal nutritional standards to over 22 million school children from low-income families. When the programs were reauthorized in 2004, significant improvements were enacted to make it easier for eligible children to receive free or reduced-price meals, while reducing the chance of ineligible children getting meals. For example, children in households that receive food stamps will be enrolled for free school meals automatically, without having to complete an application, and school districts will be required to review a sample of applications more carefully to make sure families are eligible.
The Center helps states make the Food Stamp Program easier for eligible persons to participate in and easier for states to administer; we also help states design their own food stamp programs for persons ineligible for the federal program. Our work on the WIC program includes ensuring that sufficient federal funds are provided to serve all eligible applicants and on helping states contain WIC costs. Our work on child nutrition programs focuses on helping states and school districts implement recent changes in how they determine a child's eligibility for free or reduced-priced school meals.

Food Assistance Reports by Year

2008'07 | '06 | '05 | '04 | '03 | '02 | '01 | '00 | ...

Click here for reports on WIC and child nutrition

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