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 44 percent of SNAP participants in 2018

In fiscal 2018, children accounted for 44 percent of all SNAP participants, unchanged from fiscal 2017. Children younger than five made up 13 percent of participants in fiscal 2018, while school-age children made up 31 percent. Adults age 18-59 represented 42 percent of SNAP participants in fiscal 2018, compared with 43 percent in fiscal 2017. Adults age 60 and older's share of the SNAP caseload grew from 13 percent in fiscal 2017 to 14 percent in fiscal 2018.

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

In fiscal 2019, SNAP served an average of 35.7 million people per month, or 10.9 percent of Americans. The percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits ranged from 19.8 percent in New Mexico to 4.2 percent in Wyoming. In fiscal 2019, there were 11 States besides Wyoming with 8 percent or less of their populations receiving SNAP benefits.

Last updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2022

For more information, contact: Anikka Martin