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SNAP Participation More Closely Lined to Poverty Than Unemployment
USAgNet - 04/20/2017

USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the nation's largest food assistance program. In an average month in fiscal 2016, 44.2 million people -about 14 percent of the population participated in the program.

Unlike other food and nutrition assistance programs that target specific groups, SNAP is available to most needy households with limited income and assets, subject to certain work and immigration status requirements. As a means-tested program, the number of people eligible for SNAP is inherently linked to the health of the economy.

The USDA says the share of the population receiving SNAP benefits generally tracks the poverty rate and, to lesser degrees, the unemployment rate and the poverty rate for children under age 18.

Improvement in economic conditions during the early stage of recovery may take longer to be felt by lower educated, lower wage workers who are more likely to receive SNAP benefits, resulting in a lagged response of SNAP participation to a reduction in the unemployment rate.

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