5 Things You Should Know About SNAP
This August marked the 50th anniversary of the food stamp program, known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. CHN is joining a number of organizations and advocates this week to talk about the importance of SNAP. We invite you to join in the conversation on October 30 from 2-4pm EST by posting on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on why SNAP is important, using the tag #snap4SNAP.
To help you in getting started with the conversation, we put together 5 things you should know about SNAP.
- The need for SNAP is great. Over 46 million Americans rely on SNAP to ensure they and their families have enough to eat. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children. One in seven households had trouble providing adequate food for everyone last year, and one in seven Americans relies on food pantries and meal programs to feed themselves and their families. The statistics were worse for African American and Hispanic households and for households with children. The number of people struggling against hunger remains dramatically higher than it was before the Great Recession. In 2007, before the recession, 36.2 million people were in a food insecure household (12.2 percent). In 2013, 49 million faced hunger (15.8 percent). Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about one in five people eligible for SNAP is not served.
- SNAP is an effective anti-hunger and anti-poverty program. SNAP lifted 4.8 million people – including 2.1 million children – out of poverty in 2013. As SNAP benefits are targeted to the poorest households, SNAP kept 2.8 million people – including 1.3 million children – out of deep poverty (incomes below half of the poverty line). In addition, SNAP is good for the economy – each dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in economic activity.
- SNAP is in jeopardy. There have been repeated efforts to cut SNAP. One cut was enacted last year; other proposals that passed the House have called for cuts of $40 billion to $137 billion, which would cut or end food assistance for millions of low-income families. In addition, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) recently-released plan to fight poverty would allow states to opt for a block grant of up to 11 safety net programs, including SNAP. This would largely end SNAP’s ability to respond to increased need during hard times and would likely result in reduced benefits and services. Other nutrition programs have been cut in recent years as well.
- Americans support government’s role in addressing hunger. According to a recent survey, 85% of Americans see hunger as a problem in the U.S. today, 39% say they or a person close to them has experienced hunger in the past year, and 27% say they or their immediate family have benefited from SNAP. In addition, more than 70% said the federal government has a responsibility to deal with the issue of hunger. Respondents felt that federal and state governments had a larger responsibility for dealing with hunger than local nonprofits, food banks, or churches. Nearly three-quarters strongly agreed that no one should go hungry in our country.
- We need more investments in SNAP, not less. At a time when food insecurity, poverty, and unemployment remain stubbornly high and our economy continues to leave too many behind, we need more investments in the programs like SNAP that help our neighbors from falling even deeper into hunger and poverty, not less.
Remember to join the conversation on October 30 from 2-4pm EST by posting on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on why SNAP is important, using the tag #snap4SNAP. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see the rest of our activity around SNAP this week.