Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides benefits to help people in low-income households purchase food. In fiscal year 2010, households receiving SNAP benefits had annual income (other than those benefits) that averaged about $8,800; SNAP benefits averaged about $4.30 per person per day.

SNAP spending and participation reached record levels in 2011

Nearly 45 million recipients, one out of every seven U.S. residents, received SNAP benefits in an average month in fiscal year 2011. Total federal spending for the program was $78 billion.

Spending on SNAP benefits grew by about 135 percent between 2007 and 2011

Spending growth was driven by increases in the number of people receiving benefits and by increases in benefit amounts per person.
  • About 65 percent of growth came from an increase in the number of people receiving benefits. That increase was driven primarily by the weak economy.
  • About 20 percent of growth can be attributed to temporarily higher benefit amounts. That increase was legislated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
  • The final 15 percent of growth stems from other factors, such as higher food prices and lower income among beneficiaries, both of which boosted benefits.

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