Individuals and families that experience food insecurity can apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (SNAP, formerly food stamps). SNAP benefits can be used to purchase nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, milk and other dairy products, meats and cereals. SNAP is one of the most important ways that families can access help to prevent hunger and food insecurity when they experience an economic crisis.
The benefits stemming from SNAP are far reaching. Here are a few areas that the positive effects of the program are seen in:
Staving off Hunger
Nearly 90 percent of SNAP households are living below the poverty line, and 40 percent of those enrolled have an income that is less than one-half of the poverty line, equating to approximately $9,155 for a family of three. SNAP reduces the likelihood that a family or individual will be food insecure and helps them avoid hunger.
Broad Economic Benefits
The USDA’s Economic Research Service reports that for every $1 billion in retail spending related to SNAP, there is widespread economic impact: $340 million in farm production and 3,300 farm jobs. In addition, there are thousands of full-time jobs generated by $1 billion in SNAP benefits. Those that receive SNAP benefits spend more dollars on food in a grocery store when compared to eligible individuals that do not participate in SNAP.
Ready for Recession
SNAP is an effective and responsive federal program, ready to engage and provide assistance to those that require it during a recession. SNAP is able to provide immediate relief assistance when a recession occurs because participation correlates with the expansion and retraction of the economy. SNAP also helps fuel a recovery in the economy, with each dollar of SNAP benefits generating an estimated $1.79 to $1.84 of economic activity.
SNAP provides the resources that individuals and families need to get back on their feet. SNAP benefits meet the nutritional needs of those enrolled, allowing them to take fewer sick days and increase productivity at work. Within nine months of enrollment, 50 percent of newly enrolled SNAP participants leave the program because they have become more financially stable. SNAP is also an important stepping stone for families leaving the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, giving them support as they return to economic independence.
Ready in a Disaster
When it comes to disaster response, SNAP sets the standard for efficiency. In 2005, SNAP provided emergency food assistance to more than 2 billion households.
At Second Harvest Community Food Bank, we provide assistance to help individuals and families enroll in SNAP with Close the Gap. Through Close the Gap, applicants receive assistance in the steps necessary to become enrolled in SNAP, and Second Harvest employs two full-time Food Security Coordinators to help navigate the process. If you require food assistance, call us today to learn how to get started enrolling in SNAP.