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Benefits of Increasing SNAP (Food Stamp) Program Participation

Benefits of Increasing SNAP (Food Stamp) Program Participation

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Published by Shelli Dawdy
Outreach document created by the USDA SNAP aka Food Stamp program extolling the many benefits to communities in increasing the number of program participants.
Outreach document created by the USDA SNAP aka Food Stamp program extolling the many benefits to communities in increasing the number of program participants.

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Published by: Shelli Dawdy on Oct 04, 2010
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10/04/2010

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T
HE
B
ENEFITS OF
I
NCREASINGTHE
S
UPPLEMENTAL
N
UTRITION
A
SSISTANCE
(SNAP)
 
P
ROGRAM
P
ARTICIPATION IN
Y
OUR
S
TATE
 
Introduction
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an investment in our future. It offersnutrition benefits to participating clients, supports work, and provides economic benefits tocommunities. However, too many low-income people who are eligible for the program do notparticipate and thus forgo nutrition assistance that could stretch their food dollars at the grocerystore. Their communities lose out on the benefits provided by new SNAP dollars flowing intolocal economies.In fiscal year 2007, only 66 percent
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of thoseeligible for SNAP benefits participated. Themost common reason eligible people do notparticipate is because they do not realize theymay be eligible. Others choose not to applybecause of myths or misunderstandings aboutSNAP benefits or because of stigma thatcontinues to persist. Others make a cost-benefitdecision that the time involved in applying forbenefits is not worth the expected return. Somedo not want to accept government assistance. Forspecific populations, there may be additionalcompounding factors, such as language barriersfor legal immigrants, or time and transportationbarriers for the working poor. Seniors may not understand the nature of the program and choosenot to apply for benefits, thinking children or families need the help more.Outreach and education are powerful tools in overcoming barriers to SNAP participation. Even asmall increase in SNAP participation can have a substantial impact. If the national participationrate rose five percentage points, 1.9 million more low-income people would have an additional$978 million in benefits per year to use to purchase healthy food and $1.8 billion total in neweconomic activity would be generated Nationwide.
Why does increasing participation in the SNAP make sense for your community?
The SNAP generates economic activity.
The SNAP brings Federal dollars into communities in the form of benefits which are redeemedby SNAP participants at local stores. These benefits ripple throughout the economies of thecommunity, State, and Nation. For example:
 
Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9.20 in total community spending.
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Every additional dollar’s worth of SNAP benefits generates 17 to 47 cents of newspending on food.
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On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates 3,300 farm jobs.
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"SNAPs are the first line of defense against hungerin our community. Making sure low-income peoplereceive SNAPs accomplishes many things. Firstand most importantly people get fed. Second,community and faith-based organizations such asours are relieved of having to provide a higher levelof food assistance. Third, the local grocers dobusiness with customers that they may not haveotherwise and fourth, we are all healthier andhappier."
Bill BollingExecutive DirectorAtlanta Community Food BankAtlanta, Georgia
 
 
 
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In fiscal year 2008, the average monthly SNAPbenefit per household was approximately $222.
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 These benefits, funded by Federal dollars, createbusiness when they are redeemed at your local foodretailers. Eighty-five percent of benefits, totaling$29 billion, were redeemed at the Nation’s 35,000supermarkets and superstores. The remainingbenefits, totaling $5 billion, contribute to theviability of 140,000 other firms which includegrocery stores, convenience stores, combinationstores, farmers markets and other retail food stores,plus wholesalers and meal services.
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 SNAP benefits are positively and significantlyrelated to household food expenditures.
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Although estimates of the impact vary, studies haveshown that a $1 increase in the value of SNAP benefits of a typical recipient household leads toadditional food expenditures of between 17 and 47 cents.
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SNAP recipients spend more dollarson food at local retailers in communities than eligible non-participants.SNAP benefits can be used at authorized farmers markets that sell local produce. This providesadditional customers for local farmers and provides SNAP recipients access to healthy locallygrown fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be unavailable to them. As of October 2009,there were 5,274 farmers markets operating nationwide. This is a 13 percent increase from the2008 update.
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As of August 31, 2009, 939 farmers’ markets participated in SNAP, an increase of 687 since FY 2001, when farmers’ market participation was at its lowest in the past ten years at252. The number of farmers’ markets participating in SNAP has increased 25 percent since FY2008.
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The SNAP supports work and helps low-income people make the transition to self-sufficiency.
Twenty-nine percent of participating SNAP households haveearnings.
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Employees whose nutrition needs are met at homemay be healthier and thus may take fewer sick days forthemselves or their children. Employees may stay longer withcompanies that care about them by sharing information aboutSNAP benefits and its importance as a work support.The SNAP helps families become financially stable and make thetransition to self-sufficiency, getting them through the toughtimes. Half of all new participants will leave the program withinnine months.
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 SNAP benefits are a work support. SNAP benefits help those leaving the Temporary Assistancefor Needy Families program and transitioning to work by supplementing their food budgets sothat they can stay independent and work toward self-sufficiency.
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Since SNAP benefits decreaseonly by 24 to 36 cents for every additional dollar of earnings, SNAP recipients have incentives towork since they will be better off working rather than receiving SNAP benefits alone.
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The SNAP helps low-income families make healthy food choices and put more nutritiousfood on the table.
Dietary patterns among the general public, as well as those among low-income people, indicatean excessive consumption of calories, unhealthy fats and sugars, while fruit, vegetable and whole
“A successful redemption program probably meansthat we are successfully servicing the needs of ourcommunity. By being able to meet our customers’needs during a particular time in their lives, we areoften able to establish a relationship that outlives thetime a person is eligible for SNAPs. In that case webenefit from that customer both now and in thefuture. SNAP redemption is a way to get your bestcustomer in the front door and to establish a long-term relationship with that customer.”
George MaticsPurchasing DirectorCardenas Markets, Inc.Ontario, California
 “By providing this informationto our staff, we feel that we arehelping our employees learnabout benefits they deserve.We hope these benefits will bemeaningful for them and theirfamilies.”
Alicia M. CuervoHuman Resources ManagerMercy HospitalMiami, Florida
 
 
 
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grain intakes are modest.
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These poor eating habits contribute to making overweight and obesitya national health problem. In addition to the toll on personal health, this “epidemic” of obesityhas economic implications as well. According to a study of national costs attributed to bothoverweight and obesity, medical expenses accounted for 9.1 percent of total U.S. medicalexpenditures in 1998 and may have reached as high as $78.5 billion. Approximately half of thesecosts were paid by Medicaid and Medicare.
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 However, research shows that low-income households participating in the SNAP have access tomore food energy, protein, and a broad array of essential vitamins and minerals in their homefood supply compared to eligible nonparticipants.
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Nationwide, if there were a 5percentage point increase in the SNAPparticipation rate, an additional 1.9 million low-income people would reap the nutrition benefitsof the SNAP. The SNAP also helps participantsmanage their food resources more wisely throughSNAP nutrition education. States may exercisethe option to provide targeted nutrition educationactivities or social marketing campaigns designedto help persons eligible for the SNAP makehealthier food choices and pursue activelifestyles.Because SNAP benefits are available to mostlow-income households with few resources, regardless of age, disability status, or familystructure, SNAP households are a diverse group. Eighteen percent of SNAP recipients are aged60 or older.
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For the elderly, a particularly vulnerable and underserved population, participationin the SNAP and other food assistance programs can help improve nutritional status and well-being and increase independence. More than 50 percent of SNAP participants are children.
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 Children who are well nourished may have better attendance at school and, once there, may bemore focused on learning.
Combined Efforts Are Needed
The SNAP is the cornerstone of the Nation’snutrition safety net providing assistance to thosewho qualify. It helps relieve pressure onemergency food providers, enabling them toprovide more assistance to those who do not qualityfor SNAP benefits. Because of the nutritionbenefits to participants and the economic benefitsto the Nation and to States and communities, theFood and Nutrition Service (FNS) has madeimproving access to the SNAP a priority. Increasing participation in the SNAP requires thecombined efforts of national, State, and local public leaders as well as non-profit communityagencies, employers, and anyone else who touches the lives of potentially eligible people.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. 11/30/2009
"The additional support which SNAPs provide toneedy individuals is readily seen in our stores thatserve customers in low-income areas. This benefitnot only helps those who require some additionalassistance in making ends meet, but is also an aid tothe supermarkets making a commitment to servingeconomically challenged communities. Ourpartnership with nonprofit organizations inoutreaching to potential participants speaks toPathmark's commitment to this important program."
Rich SavnerDirector of Public Affairs and GovernmentRelations Pathmark Stores, Inc.Carteret, New Jersey
“To reach common ground, we need to go tohigher ground. Together with our businessand government leaders, we can buildcommunity and economic prosperity for all.”
Daniella LevineExecutive DirectorHuman Service CoalitionMiami, Florida

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