Food Security and Nutrition Assistance

ERS monitors the food security of U.S. households through an annual, nationally representative survey. While most U.S. households are food secure, a minority of U.S. households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by lack of money and other resources. Some experience very low food security, a more severe range of food insecurity where food intake of one or more members is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted. Reliable monitoring of food security contributes to the effective operation of USDA’s 15 food and nutrition assistance programs aimed at reducing food insecurity.

Children accounted for 43 percent of SNAP participants in 2017

In fiscal 2017, children accounted for 43.4 percent of all SNAP participants, slightly lower than in fiscal 2016 (44.1 percent). Children younger than five made up 13.4 percent of participants in fiscal 2016, while school-age children made up 30.0 percent. Adults age 18-59 represented 43.4 percent of SNAP participants in fiscal 2017, compared with 44.1 percent in fiscal 2016. Adults age 60 and older's share of the SNAP caseload grew from 11.8 percent in fiscal 2016 to 13.1 percent in fiscal 2017.

Participation in SNAP varies across States, reflecting differences in need and program policies

In fiscal 2018, SNAP served an average of 40.3 million people per month, or 12.3 percent of Americans. The percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits ranged from 21.8 percent in New Mexico to 5.1 percent in Wyoming. In fiscal 2018, Utah, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Kansas, Minnesota, and Colorado were the other States besides Wyoming with 8 percent or less of their populations receiving SNAP benefits.