Why SNAP?

Everything You Need to Know About America’s Largest Anti-Hunger Program

Child holding a sandwich and smiling at the camera.
July 20, 2020

Why do we need SNAP?

SNAP and other anti-hunger programs are vital to ending hunger in America.

The first food-stamp program was created in 1939. Decades later, food stamps have become the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). We’ve made strides in feeding our neighbors since the Great Depression, but 1 in 9 Americans still struggle with hunger and as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we expect that the number of people struggling with food insecurity could increase by 17.1 million.

SNAP and other anti-hunger programs are an incredibly important resource for our neighbors who may be recovering from a tough break and need a little temporary help getting back on their feet, or who need support during a crisis. These programs are efficient and effective. Feeding America is the largest anti-hunger charity in the United States, but all of our good work is only a fraction of what the federal anti-hunger programs accomplish. For every meal Feeding America provides, SNAP provides nine.

Who does SNAP help?

SNAP helps our neighbors put food on the table during difficult times. Mainly, SNAP serves children, seniors and people with disabilities. In fact, nearly half of the people receiving SNAP are children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP is helping people who suddenly found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of not being able to put food on the table for themselves or their families.

How does SNAP work?

SNAP is available to people living in households with low incomes. Those who qualify for SNAP receive Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, loaded with benefits that are timely, targeted and temporary. Benefits are about $1.40 per meal or around $127 per person per month. SNAP benefits can only be spent on food.

How does SNAP help the economy?

Households usually spend their monthly benefits right away, so SNAP provides quick support to local economies. And that support is significant, as every dollar in SNAP benefits helps generate more than $1.70 in economic activity. 

What happens if we don't increase SNAP benefits?

If we don’t increase SNAP benefits during the COVID pandemic, food banks will continue to face unprecedented demand for food assistance. The vast majority of food banks are seeing an increased need this year compared to last, and if the current level of food distribution continues, Feeding America's network will distribute 6 billion meals this year.

What can I do to support SNAP?

Send a message to Congress asking them to increase SNAP benefits for all recipients and to help provide important food for families struggling during the pandemic.

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