SNAP

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low income individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. The SNAP/Food Stamp Program is the largest nutrition assistance program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Over 46 million people rely on SNAP to ensure they and their families have enough to eat. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children.

    The goal of the program is “to alleviate hunger and malnutrition … by increasing food purchasing power for all eligible households who apply for participation” as stated in the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended (P.L. 108-269).  The program provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income families which can be used to purchase food. Through the electronic benefit transfer systems (EBT) the use of food stamp “coupons” is no longer the means in which a client receives their benefits. EBT replaces paper coupons through use of a benefits card, similar to a bank card. USDA reports that all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are now using EBT systems.

    The federal government pays 100 percent of SNAP/Food Stamp program benefits. Federal and State governments share administrative costs (with the federal government contributing nearly 50 percent). Every 5 years, the SNAP/Food Stamp program is reauthorized by Congress as part of the Farm Bill.  The reauthorization establishes who is eligible for SNAP/food Stamps and addresses program access, benefit levels, and other matters.

    Future of SNAP benefits uncertain
    Congress currently is debating reauthorization of SNAP, with a Sept. 30, 2018 deadline looming. In June 2018, the House passed a reauthorization bill on a narrow 213-211 vote. The House bill is strongly opposed by anti-hunger advocates; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) estimates it would cause more than 1 million low-income households with more than 2 million people – particularly low-income working families with children – to lose their benefits altogether or have them reduced. Roughly 265,000 children in low-income families would also lose access to free meals at school.

    The Senate passed its version of reauthorization with a bipartisan vote of 86-11 later in June 2018. The Senate’s bill includes the reauthorization of SNAP but without the deep cuts and harmful changes to SNAP that were included in the bill the House passed. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) said the Senate bill “keeps food in the refrigerators and on the tables of struggling individuals and families,” and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said the Senate bill “improves SNAP by building on what works and protecting the program from harmful cuts that would take food off the table of those who face hunger.”

    House and Senate conferees are expected to negotiate changes to their respective bills late in the summer of 2018.

    For more information on this issue, visit the The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Outcome Fact Sheet.

    Advocacy Organizations

    America’s Second Harvest
    Bread for the World
    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
    Congressional Hunger Center
    Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
    Share Our Strength