What is the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP)?
SNAP is the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program, helping individuals and families with cash assistance for their monthly food budgets. Individuals or families that live at or below 200% of poverty are eligible to apply for SNAP benefits through the state’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services.
How is SNAP related to public policy?
In 2012, Congress will debate the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in Agricultural Committees of both Houses. The Farm Bill is a large omnibus bill with many components.
What are Three Square’s Farm Bill priorities?
- Protect SNAP from harmful budget cuts and/or structural changes that reduce the program’s integrity;
- Opposing additional limitations or barriers to participation which illegitimately heighten fear and increase stigma (finger-imaging, additional food purchase limitations);
- Encouraging efforts to postpone sunset on ARRA stimulus for SNAP beneficiaries (most households received 17% more in assistance since 2009, taking the average daily equivalent from $3.26 in 2008 to about $3.96 in 2009 and $4.06 in 2010 in Nevada);
- Supporting efforts to increase access and affordability of healthy foods for everyone, but especially for low-income individuals, rural communities and residents in urban food deserts;
- Tie purchasing triggers for the USDA’s TEFAP Bonus (The Emergency Food Assistance Program; a commodity program) to county-level unemployment, so that areas of sustained high unemployment or surges in unemployment receive additional food for distribution.
How does The SNAP Experience relate to Three Square’s Farm Bill priorities?
While it is not Three Square’s intent to use this advocacy challenge as an outcry for additional SNAP benefits (beyond maintaining ARRA Stimulus Funds), The SNAP Experience focuses on five anticipated outcomes:
Why is Three Square advocating to protect SNAP benefits?
Research shows that about 50% of SNAP beneficiaries also rely on food pantries to secure enough food to feed themselves and their families. Feeding America, and food banks like Three Square, have joined in the national advocacy campaign to protect SNAP from devastating funding cuts or structural changes that would negatively impact the program’s integrity.
How does Nevada benefit from SNAP?
- SNAP provides federal assistance directly to low-income individuals: SNAP recipients receive monthly assistance on a debit-type card that can only be used through authorized grocery retailers. Low-income Nevadans received over $400,000,000 in 2010;
- SNAP stimulates the local economy: every $1 redeemed in SNAP benefits at the neighborhood grocery store generates a $1.80 in economic activity. Considering the amount of federal benefits given to Nevadans, we have generated over $760,000,000 in economic activity;
- SNAP curbs hunger: Without SNAP helping families purchase food for the month, millions of families would experience pervasive, debilitating hunger;
- SNAP responds quickly to changes in the economy, often due to surges in unemployment or in times of natural disaster. Participation in Nevada has tripled in recent years, in-line with tripled unemployment in the same period.
Is Three Square advocating for more funding for SNAP?
That’s not necessary. The beauty of the SNAP program is that it is designed to expand and contract with poverty and unemployment rates. As the economy recovers, fewer households will depend on SNAP. Before the economic crisis began, the average SNAP recipient received benefits over eight months. It seems reasonable in recent years this average has increased due to the pervasiveness of unemployment, especially here in Nevada where unemployment is the highest in the nation. At least 40% of households eligible for SNAP in Nevada aren’t yet on the program and Three Square means to help more eligible families apply for benefits.