West Ohio food bank
What is SNAP?
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program. SNAP provides monthly benefits to eligible low-income households on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to purchase food and food products like seeds and non-alcoholic beverages at approved grocery stores, farmers markets, and retailers. SNAP can even be used online to purchase groceries for delivery or pickup through many popular retailers. While other nutrition safety net programs are restricted to particular categories, SNAP is broadly available to households with low-income, making it the largest nutrition assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Most households that have gross income at or below 130% of the federal poverty guideline for the household’s size are eligible for benefits. SNAP benefit levels are based on the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which is an estimate of how much it costs to buy and prepare nutritious, low-cost meals for the household assuming they take steps to stretch their budget. In October 2021, the USDA’s update to the Thrifty Food Plan went into effect and raised SNAP maximum benefits by 21 percent. The historic improvement to SNAP benefits increased the food purchasing power of low-income families who use the program and more accurately reflects the cost of a healthy, nutritious diet.
What impact does SNAP have?
A vast body of research shows SNAP plays a critical role in reducing hunger, poverty and improves health, education and economic outcomes. Food and nutrition access are interlinked to the health and wellbeing of children and adults. Food insecurity, and even marginal food insecurity, is associated with common and often costly physical and mental health issues in adults, including diabetes, hypertension and depression. The consequences of poverty and food insecurity are especially detrimental to the development and well-being of children. Research links childhood food insecurity with poor academic outcomes and adverse health conditions such as anemia, asthma, mental health and behavioral problems. SNAP plays a particularly essential role in addressing the connection between hunger and health among the most vulnerable populations, as more than two-thirds of all SNAP participants are children, elderly persons or individuals with disabilities. SNAP and increased benefits are linked to reduced food insecurity, health care expenditures and hospital utilization by its simple boost to food purchasing power of low-income households.