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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Statistics & Concept

Instructor: Jessica McCallister

Jessica has a Doctorate degree in Social Work

The following lesson provides statistics and information regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federally funded food assistance program offered across the nation.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a program located across the nation that is offered to millions of eligible, low-income families and individuals for assistance in purchasing food. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports and funds the program, although funding is often distributed and facilitated through state agencies. Therefore, the program may be called something other than SNAP, depending on the state. Some states have adopted their own program name. However, the federal SNAP program funds all state programs.

The program generally issues a purchase card that can be used at retailers that are authorized or have opted to accept the SNAP benefits. Only food items can be purchased through this program, and no alcohol, tobacco, or clothing items are allowed. The purchase cards are often referred to as 'EBT' cards (Electronic Benefits Transfer).

National Statistics

The SNAP program began in 1969 and first provided food benefits to around 228,000 people. According to the USDA in 2014, over 74 million people across the nation now access the SNAP benefits. Among the states with the highest enrollments in the SNAP program are California, New York, Florida, and Texas. Not surprisingly, these states report the highest population figures as well across the nation. The following provides the year-end totals in 2013 for households receiving SNAP benefits from the states mentioned above:

  • California reported a total of 1,905,869 individuals receiving SNAP benefits.
  • New York reported a total of 1,710,501 individuals receiving SNAP benefits.
  • Florida reported a total of 1,943,902 individuals receiving SNAP benefits.
  • Texas reported a total of 1,674,350 individuals receiving SNAP benefits.

The SNAP food benefits can range in amount each month, depending on multiple factors, including: how many people live in the household, how much total income is reported for the household, age of those in the household, etc. The most common qualifying factor is related to income. Therefore, it is difficult to determine how much benefit anyone will be allowed given individual circumstances.

Average Monthly Benefits

According to the USDA, in April 2014, the average monthly individual benefit across the nation was $127.08, and the average monthly household benefit across the nation was $261.15. Remember, depending on household size, income, and other factors, the monthly benefit amount can be higher or lower than the national average.

Maximum Monthly Benefit Amount

Although the USDA reports the average monthly individual and average monthly household benefits as being $127.08 and $261.15 respectively, the USDA also states that the maximum benefit amount for an individual cannot exceed $189 per month. The maximum benefit amount for a family of five cannot exceed the benefit amount of $750 per month.

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