August 4, 2022
New Urban Institute research shows that, compared to not having the benefit expansions, the combination of the fall 2021 Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) update and the provision of temporary Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments (EAs) reduced poverty in quarter four of 2021 by 14.1 percent and child poverty by 21.8 percent.
The findings underscore the importance of policy decisions on people’s lives. Much weaker impacts were estimated for states that had decided to stop issuing EAs by the fall of 2021. Unless Congress takes further action, all SNAP EAs will end when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration expires.
Policies Reduced Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Poverty Rates
The research illustrates how these combined policies help close long-standing disparities in poverty rates:
- The difference in Black and white people experiencing poverty fell from 10 percent to 7.2 percent.
- The improvement between Black and white children experiencing poverty fell from 12.3 percent to 7.9 percent.
- The difference in Latinx and white people experiencing poverty fell from 13.5 percent to 11.4 percent.
Poverty Reduction Impacts by State
While the Thrifty Food Plan adjustment was a federal policy that applied in all states, SNAP EAs were a matter of state choice.
The vast majority of states had continued to leverage federal EAs for their SNAP households in quarter four of 2021. The states registering the highest poverty reduction percentages from the combination of TFP reevaluation and SNAP EAs were: New Mexico (-26.4 percent), Oklahoma (-22.2), Louisiana (-21.1), West Virginia (-20.9), Mississippi (-20.8), and Rhode Island (-20.5).
A minority of states (Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota) that had not issued EAs that quarter saw more modest anti-poverty improvements. Those non-EA states also missed out on greater food purchasing power for their SNAP households and greater boosts to their economies. Every $1 in SNAP during a downturn generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity.
Advocate for Continued SNAP Boosts
Let Congress know how the TFP reevaluation and SNAP EAs reduced poverty in your state.
Let them know about polling results showing that 62 percent of the public supports continued SNAP expansions.