• Programs
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

  • Year Started 1964
  • Administratering Agency U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Total Units Count 42 million
  • Total Assisted Units Count 1 billion
  • # Persons / Houshold Served Low-income individuals and families
  • Funding Agency U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Population Targeted Low-income individuals and families
  • Client Group Type Low-income individuals and families
  • Housing Type Name Food assistance
  • Last Updated April 25, 2023

If the resource information above is incorrect, please notify your local HUD field office.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), widely known as the Food Stamp program in previous times, is the nation’s most crucial nutritional program. The program assists more than 41 Million low-income people in the United States so that they can afford a nutritionally adequate diet every month.

The SNAP program mainly aims at providing nutritional support for low-paid working families, low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and the households having a low income. As far as the cost of the SNAP program is concerned, the Federal Government pays the full cost of SNAP benefits and splits the cost of administering the program within the states operating it. The SNAP program is operational in 50 states at present.

Eligibility for SNAP

Households with low incomes are eligible for SNAP. Its eligibility rules and benefit levels are uniform across the nation and are decided at the federal level. The states also have the flexibility to tailor aspects such as the value of a vehicle held by the household. A household must meet the following criteria to become eligible for assistance under the SNAP program

  • The monthly income of a household should be below 130% of the poverty line. The households that have a member aged above 60 or is disabled need not meet this requirement.
  • The net monthly income of a household after deductions must be less than or equal to the poverty line.
  • The assets of a household should be below $2500 for households with senior members.

A SNAP household includes people who live together and prepare food together. The people on strike, college students, or the ones with drug felony convictions are not eligible for SNAP irrespective of their income. Unemployed adults aged between 18-49 can only enjoy the SNAP benefits for 3 months. The benefits can be extended if the adults are working for at least 20 hours per week or are participating in a job training program.

How to apply for SNAP?

The application process for SNAP is designed by the state itself keeping in mind the federal guidelines. You can apply in person at the local SNAP office or drop a mail. Before sending the applications, the applicants need to participate in an eligibility interview on the phone.

The applicants also need to show the documents such as identity proof, residency proof, immigration proof, household composition, income, and resources. The households which are confirmed as eligible for SNAP by states will receive an EBT card (electronic transfer card) containing the monthly benefits.

Using the EBT card, households can purchase food at authorized dealers and participate in the program. The applicants cannot purchase alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, vitamin supplements, and non-food grocery items using SNAP.

If the household’s income increases, report the same to the local SNAP office. Besides this, the households also have the provision to reapply after every six to 12 months for seniors and people with disabilities.

Benefits received by households

The SNAP participants received around $127 per month per person. The households also received $92 per month in pandemic-related benefits. The pandemic-related benefits will not last when the Federal public health emergency ends or states end their emergency declaration. The households with the lowest incomes tend to receive the largest benefits compared to the households close to the poverty line. USDA established a diet plan known as Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) which is designed to be nutritionally adequate at a low cost.

Unfortunately, the TFP’s real purchasing power has been frozen due to the decision to allow its cost to increase only by inflation. With time, the importance of eating more specific groups of food such as leafy green vegetables, lean protein foods, and whole grains has increased. Consequently, SNAP benefits seemed short of what households need to have a healthy diet. Not receiving adequate SNAP benefits can harm participants’ health and educational achievement, and hospital admissions among SNAP households.

Features of SNAP

The primary purpose of SNAP is to assist low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities to afford an adequate diet. Besides this, the SNAP program also promotes other goals which are mentioned below.

Protect families from hunger

The SNAP program helps families to bridge temporary benefits of unemployment or family crises by feeding their children until they can improve their circumstances. Anyone eligible for the SNAP program can receive its benefits. Enrollment will expand when the economy weakens and will contract when the economy recovers.

The studies show that SNAP benefits have reduced food insecurity among households who have limited resources and are unable to purchase food. The program is highly effective among children facing low food security.

Protects overall economy

The SNAP program also protects the overall economy as it brings more money into the economy during a recession. Households with low incomes often spend all of their income on fulfilling their daily needs such as shelter, food, and transportation. Fortunately, with the SNAP program, households can spend more on food items or other crucial items.

SNAP is the largest program among all other programs which stimulates growth and creates jobs in an economic recession.

Lessening poverty and hardships

SNAP provides additional resources for food and exempts the households with low income to fulfill other basic needs such as rent, utilities, and basic care. According to the research, it is revealed that 92% of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line.

Assisting low-paid workers

In addition to the above-mentioned features, SNAP is designed to supplement the wages of low-paid workers and also provides security to seniors and disabled people. There are Millions of people working in the U.S. and having no benefits such as paid sick leave.

Consequently, SNAP benefits help workers who have no jobs. The workers participating in SNAP usually work in service or sales occupations which are low-paid and vulnerable to income volatility.

Healthy eating and improved health

By participating in the SNAP program, households can afford more healthy foods and boost family food purchases, the ones which can be prepared and eaten at home. The adult participants can have a positive self-assessment of their health status.

The research conducted on this reveals that children receiving assistance under the SNAP program report better health status than the ones who are not SNAP participants.

Responds to natural disasters

SNAP also offers food assistance to vulnerable households in the case of natural disasters. The USDA and states collaborate to provide quick and targeted assistance after a disaster. It includes supporting participants with food and providing them temporary disaster SNAP benefits to non-participants who have suffered a major loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Statutory and Regulatory Authority

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Section 202, Housing Act of 1959

  • 12 U.S.C.A. § 1701q

Section 811, National Affordable Housing Act of 1990

  • 42 U.S.C.A § 8013

Select HUD Regulations

  • 24 C.F.R. Part 247 (evictions)
  • 24 C.F.R. Part 891 (supportive housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities)

For more information, search to contact your local HUD .