WASHINGTON, August 2, 2017 — Households in counties determined by the U.S. Census Bureau to be rural and small town are more likely to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than their metro area counterparts, according to SNAP Maps, a new interactive data tool released today by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). Nationally, over the five years studied, on average, 16 percent of rural and small town households participated in SNAP, compared to 13 percent of households in metro areas. On a state-by-state and county-by county basis, rural and small town participation is typically higher
“No community in America is immune to hunger, but rural and small town areas are especially hard hit,” said Jim Weill, president, FRAC.
Census Bureau data show 15 percent of non-metro households and 12 percent of metro households are food insecure. These new state-by-state and county-by-county analyses show a virtually identical pattern in SNAP participation.
According to FRAC, this new data tool will allow local, state, and national policymakers and program administrators, as well as advocates, media, and others, to understand how substantial numbers of struggling families in every county across the country need help from SNAP. It will also serve to dispel too-frequently repeated myths and stereotypes.
“SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and is critical to keeping and lifting low-income households — including massive numbers in rural and small town areas — out of poverty and hunger,” added Weill. “SNAP is one of the nation’s very best investments, and it is unacceptable that this proven and effective program is under attack.”
Both the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget and the House Budget Committee’s FY 2018 budget resolution propose dramatic cuts to SNAP. The House budget resolution, which is expected to be voted on in September, gives reconciliation instructions to the House Agriculture Committee to make $10 billion in cuts over 10 years to programs in its jurisdiction — a reduction clearly pointed at SNAP. The budget also calls for another $150 billion in SNAP cuts through benefit and eligibility restrictions and structural changes in the latter part of the 10-year budget window.
“These proposed cuts would have devastating consequences for children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, working families, and others in rural, small town, and metro communities,” said Weill, pointing to the data in SNAP Maps. “Without question, hunger and poverty in this country would become far worse.”
SNAP Maps is based on American Community Survey (ACS) five-year data (2011–2015). Each county is grouped into one of three census categories: Metro, Small Town, or Rural. Accompanying the map is an interactive, searchable table that allows users to look at and compare household SNAP participation by state and county. SNAP Maps demonstrates that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics.
FRAC also is releasing state factsheets — using the 2011–2015 ACS data — that depict statewide percentages of households on SNAP in metro, small town, and rural counties, and analyze the share of SNAP households in each state with children, families with working members, and those participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
To learn more, visit FRAC.org.
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The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.