Fact Sheet: Get the Facts About SNAP

April 30, 2018

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) served more than 41 million Americans in 2017 (as of December 2017). Enrollment in the program almost doubled in the wake of the recession and has been trending downward as the economy continues to recover.

Key Facts About SNAP

  • SNAP works exactly as it’s supposed to. SNAP was designed to respond quickly and efficiently to increases in need. When poverty and unemployment spiked in 2008, 2009, and 2010, so did SNAP participation.
  • SNAP reaches exactly whom it’s supposed to. The average SNAP household has a gross monthly income of $813. This is well below the strict national income limits. Ninety two percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes at or below the poverty line.
  • SNAP participation increased mainly due to the poor economy. The largest increases in SNAP participation came on the heels of the recession.
  • SNAP encourages work. Employment rates among households with children and at least one non-disabled adult rose nearly 10 percent from 2009 to 2015, the Great Recession years.
  • SNAP fraud is the exception, not the rule. The USDA tracks two types of SNAP fraud data: trafficking and error rate. The majority of SNAP payment errors are a result of administrative errors, not intentional fraud.
  • Charity alone can’t feed everyone. Our federal nutrition programs deliver more than 19 times the amount of food assistance as private charitable sources.
SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans. Congress must do its part to end hunger by protecting SNAP.

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