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SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 2.2 Million People in December 2016, its Lowest Level in Six Years

Trends Factors: Economic Improvement Combined with Jobless Worker Cutoffs and Weak Energy Sector

December 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation decreased to its lowest monthly level since September 2010, totaling 42,968,525 persons in December 2016, a drop of 228,750 persons, compared with November 2016, and a drop of 2,220,226 persons, compared with December 2015.

The over-the-year downward SNAP participation trend in December 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors. On the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households. On the other, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.
As discussed below, research documents SNAP’s positive impacts on food security, economic, and health outcomes. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and continue to strengthen SNAP’s positive effects.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between December 2015 and December 2016 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states, the three-month time limit on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. The 10 states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation either had no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina) or had only partial area waivers of the time limit (Idaho, Maryland, and Washington). December 2016 SNAP participation levels in South Carolina also were sharply lower than in December 2015, when temporary Disaster SNAP benefits were provided to flood victims.

In the 10 states registering flat participation or over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in December 2016, likely factors include economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector, and/or progress in closing SNAP participation gaps. Five of the 10 states with flat participation or over-the-year SNAP participation increases in December 2016 — Louisiana, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma — ranked among the 10 states with the biggest job losses in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis here.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than Two Million People in November 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs and Weak Energy Sector

November 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation totaled 43,193,205 persons in November 2016, a drop of 222,945 persons compared with October 2016 and a drop of 2,260,666 persons compared with November 2015.

The over-the-year downward SNAP participation trend in November 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle to recover from natural disasters and against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

As discussed below, research documents SNAP’s positive impacts on food security, economic and health outcomes. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between November 2015 and November 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states three-months (out of 36 months) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. Nine of the ten states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation either had no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, and Indiana) or had only partial area waivers of the time limit (Washington State, Maryland and Oregon).

In the 11 states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in November 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector, and/or progress in closing SNAP participation gaps. Six of the 11 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in November 2016—Louisiana, Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis here.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 2.1 Million People in October 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs, Weak Energy Sector and Disaster Assistance for Flood Victims

October 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation totaled 43,215,557 persons in October 2016, a drop of 277,592 persons compared with September 2016 and a drop of 2,152,708 persons compared with October 2015.

The over-the-year downward SNAP participation trend in October 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle to recover from natural disasters and against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education, and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between October 2015 and October 2016 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states three-months (out of 36 months) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. Nine of the ten states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation either had no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (Nebraska, North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Florida, Indiana, and Missouri) or had only partial area waivers of the time limit (Tennessee, and Washington State).

In the 10 states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in October 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector, and/or progress in closing SNAP participation gaps. Six of the eight states with the largest over-the-year SNAP participation increases in September 2016 — Louisiana, Wyoming, Texas, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oklahoma—ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 1.9 Million People in September 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs, Weak Energy Sector and Disaster Assistance for Flood Victims

September 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation totaled 43,493,667 persons in September 2016, a drop of 132,656 persons compared with August 2016 and a drop of 1,921,778 persons compared with September 2015. Some of those receiving SNAP benefits in September 2016 were Louisiana flood victims.

The over-the-year downward SNAP participation trend in September 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle to recover from natural disasters and against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education, and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between September 2015 and September 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states, three-month time limits (out of 36 months) on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. The 10 states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation either had no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and North Carolina) or had only partial area waivers of the time limit (Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington state).

In the 11 states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in September 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector, and/or progress in closing SNAP participation gaps. SNAP participation increased in Louisiana at least in part due to a temporary response to flooding. Six states with the largest over-the-year SNAP participation increases in September 2016 — Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming — were ranked among the top eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 1.8 Million People in August 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs, Weak Energy Sector and Disaster Assistance for Flood Victims

August 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation totaled 43,625,286 persons in August 2016, an increase of 294,562 persons compared with July 2016 but a decrease of 1,839,147 persons compared with August 2015. Much of the over-the-month increase in August 2016 is attributable to temporary Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) payments to Louisiana flood victims.

The over-the-year downward SNAP participation trend in July 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between August 2015 and August 2016 in 38 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states three-months (out of 36 months) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. The ten states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation either had no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (Arkansas, Mississippi, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri and Kansas) or had only partial area waivers of the time limit (Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington State).

In states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in August 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector and progress in closing SNAP participation gaps in traditionally low participation states. Seven of the 12 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in August 2016 (Louisiana, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania) ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In August 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 16 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2015.

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the onset of the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 2 Million People in July 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs and Weak Energy Sector

July 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 43,369,684 persons in July 2016, a decrease of 1,056 persons compared with June 2016 and a decrease of 2,137,387 persons compared with July 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010.

The downward SNAP participation trend in July 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between July 2015 and July 2016 in 40 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states three-months (out of 36 months) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. The ten states with the sharpest over-the-year declines in SNAP participation had either no waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (Arkansas, Indiana, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Florida and Missouri) or only partial area waivers (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and New Hampshire).

In states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in July 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector and progress in closing SNAP participation gaps in traditionally low participation states. Six of the ten states (Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Pennsylvania) with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in July 2016 ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In July 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 16 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2015.

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the onset of the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 2 Million People in June 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs and Weak Energy Sector

June 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 43,376,981 persons in June 2016, a decrease of 101,217 persons compared with May 2016 and a decrease of 2,133,170 persons compared with June 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010.

The downward SNAP participation trend in June 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America  includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between June 2015 and June 2016 in 38 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states three-months (out of 36 months) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. Four of the five states with the sharpest over-the-year SNAP participation declines failed to implement waivers to preserve SNAP eligibility for unemployed adults in areas with insufficient jobs (Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, and Florida.)

In states registering over-the-year increases in SNAP participation in June 2016, likely factors included economic need exacerbated by a weak energy sector and progress in closing SNAP participation gaps in traditionally low participation states. Seven of the ten states (Louisiana, New Mexico, Wyoming, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Pennsylvania) with the largest over-the-year SNAP participation increases in June 2016 ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.

Of the 10 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in June 2016, seven (Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma) ranked among the 13 worst states in reaching SNAP eligible people, according to the most recent year for which such data are available (2013).

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In April 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 16 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2015.

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the onset of the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped By More Than 2 Million People in May 2016

Trends Factors: Some Economic Improvement But Also Jobless Worker Cutoffs and Weak Energy Sector

May 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 43,478,196 persons in May 2016, a decrease of 92,772 persons compared with April 2016 and a decrease of 2,017,088 persons compared with May 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010.

The downward SNAP participation trend in May 2016 likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages, particularly in states experiencing sharp job losses in the energy sector.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between May 2015 and May 2016 in 38 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines.

Seven of the eight states (Louisiana, Wyoming, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania) with the largest over-the-year SNAP participation increases in May 2016 also ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment. Read the full Brookings Institution analysis.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In April 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 16 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2015.

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the onset of the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Fell by Over 773,000 People in April 2016 to Its Lowest Level in Five and a Half Years

Research Shows SNAP’s Effectiveness But Underscores A Need for Increasing Benefits to Achieve Even Stronger Outcomes

April 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 43,571,080 persons in April 2016, a decrease of 773,134 persons compared with March 2016 and a decrease of 1,867,711 persons compared with April 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country, particularly as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between April 2015 and April 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions, but in some states (Florida, Indiana, Mississippi and Wisconsin) time limits on SNAP benefits for certain jobless adults also likely contributed to steep participation declines. In Kentucky in April 2016 SNAP participation increased over the prior month, after the state corrected the access glitches in the new “Benefind” eligibility system it launched in March 2016.

Of the 11 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in April 2016, six (Wyoming, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Texas, and Nebraska) ranked among the 15 worst states in reaching SNAP eligible people, according to the most recent year for which such data are available (2013). SNAP outreach and access initiatives in more recent years as well as economic factors impacting need are contributing to those states’ increased participation levels. In Massachusetts, the over-the-year increase largely reflects actions the state initiated in early 2015 to correct systemic problems that had led to closures or denials of many client cases without an eligibility determination in 2014.

Economic Factors

Despite some improvements in economic conditions, food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In April 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 16 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2015.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped by Nearly 1.3 Million People in March 2016 to Its Lowest Level in Five Years

Research Shows SNAP’s Effectiveness But Underscores A Need for Increasing Benefits to Achieve Even Stronger Outcomes

March 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 44,344,259 persons in March 2016, a decrease of 38,667 persons compared with February 2016 and a decrease of 1,297,492 persons compared with March 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since February 2011. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country, particularly as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

SNAP participation declined between March 2015 and March 2016 in 39 states and the District of Columbia, mostly reflecting improved economic conditions. However, the double-digit declines in Kentucky in March 2016, compared with February 2016 and March 2015, reportedly are attributable to widespread access problems after the state implemented its new “Benefind” eligibility system.

Of the 11 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in March 2016, six (Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) ranked among the 15 worst states in reaching SNAP eligible people, according to the most recent year for which such data are available (2013). SNAP outreach and access initiatives in more recent years as well as economic factors impacting need are contributing to those states’ increased participation levels. In Louisiana, Disaster-SNAP and other relief in the wake of March 2016 floods contributed to significant SNAP participation increases over-the-month and over-the prior March. In Massachusetts, the over-the-year increase largely reflects actions the state initiated in early 2015 to correct systemic problems that had led to closures or denials of many client cases without an eligibility determination in 2014.

Economic Factors

Despite some improvements in economic conditions, food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In January 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 17 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2014.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about 17 percent of those eligible go unserved and SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped by Nearly 1.3 Million People in February 2016 to Its Lowest Level in Five Years

Research Shows SNAP’s Effectiveness But Underscores A Need for Increasing Benefits to Achieve Even Stronger Outcomes

February 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 44,391,436 persons in February 2016, a decrease of 461,016 persons compared with January 2016 and a decrease of 1,290,975 persons compared with February 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since February 2011. Still, SNAP matters for many Americans across the country, particularly as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

Of the 11 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in February 2016, six (Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) ranked among the 15 worst states in reaching SNAP eligible people, according to the most recent year for which such data are available (2013). SNAP outreach and access initiatives in more recent years as well as economic factors impacting need are contributing to those states’ increased participation levels. In Massachusetts, the over-the-year increase largely reflects actions the state initiated in early 2015 to correct systemic problems that had led to closures or denials of many client cases without an eligibility determination in 2014.

Economic Factors

Despite some improvements in economic conditions, food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In January 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis (pdf) using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 17 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in 2014.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about 15 percent of those eligible for SNAP are not served. SNAP is missing nearly six in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.


SNAP Over-the-Year Participation Dropped by More Than 1,000,000 People in January 2016 to Its Lowest Level Since April 2011

Research Shows SNAP’s Effectiveness But Underscores A Need for Increasing Benefits to Achieve Even Stronger Outcomes

January 2016 Participation Tables (pdf)

SNAP participation averaged 44,705,445 persons in January 2016, a decrease of 483,306 persons compared with December 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since April 2011. Most states experienced decreases in caseloads; nationally, there was a SNAP participation decrease of 1,323,485 persons compared with January 2015. SNAP still matters for many Americans across the country, particularly as they struggle against problems of underemployment, stagnant wages and natural disasters.

Research findings in a December 2015 White House Report (pdf) confirm SNAP’s effectiveness in promoting good health, education and food security outcomes. The White House report findings, however, suggest that current SNAP benefit amounts are inadequate for households. The U.S. Conference of Mayors survey on hunger and homelessness (pdf) released in December 2015 also points to increasing SNAP benefits as one of the strategies to address hunger. FRAC’s Plan to End Hunger in America includes recommendations to increase SNAP benefit levels and strengthen SNAP’s positive effects further.

State Trends

Of the 11 states with over-the-year SNAP participation increases in January 2016, six (Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma) ranked among the 15 worst states in reaching SNAP eligible people, according to the most recent year for which such data are available (2013). SNAP outreach and access initiatives in more recent years as well as economic and climate factors impacting need are contributing to those states’ increased participation levels. In Massachusetts, the over-the-year increase largely reflects actions the state started initiating in early 2015 to correct systemic problems that had led to closures or denials of many client cases without an eligibility determination in 2014.

Economic Factors

Despite some improvements in economic conditions, food hardship and need for food assistance remain relatively high. In January 2016, about one in seven people in the U.S. received SNAP and about one in ten were unemployed or underemployed, according to USDA data and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics U-6 measure. A FRAC analysis using the Healthways Well-Being survey collected by Gallup showed that 17 percent of respondents did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family in the first six months of 2015.

SNAP Still Misses Eligible People Experiencing Food Hardship

Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about 15 percent of those eligible for SNAP are not served. SNAP is missing nearly four in ten eligible elderly persons. SNAP policies that improve program access and increase staff capacity to process applications as well as SNAP outreach can help communities, families and businesses maximize federal dollars.