ERS Charts of Note
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Federal eligibility rules for USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) stipulate that households must meet three financial criteria: gross income, net income, and asset limits. States using broad-based categorical eligibility criteria are allowed to eliminate the asset limit and increase the monthly gross income limit from 130 percent of the Federal poverty line up to 200 percent when determining SNAP eligibility. This new eligibility option is among the many legislative and regulatory efforts to simplify SNAP administration and increase program access, especially for low-income working families. During the discussions leading up to the Agricultural Act of 2014, concerns were raised that the broad-based categorical eligibility option had allowed assistance to expand beyond the poorest Americans. In 2012, 5.2 percent of SNAP households had incomes above 130 percent of the Federal poverty line?compared to 1.0 percent in 2000?and they received 1.5 percent of total SNAP benefits.? This chart and a discussion of other SNAP-related provisions of the 2014 Farm Act can be found in ?2014 Farm Act Maintains SNAP Eligibility Guidelines and Funds New Initiatives? in the July 2014 issue of ERS?s Amber Waves magazine.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
In 2009, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Congress temporarily increased the maximum benefit levels of USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by 13.6 percent, with the intention that, over time, rising food prices would eliminate the ARRA increase. By 2011, inflation had cut the value of the ARRA increase by about half and the percentage of SNAP-recipient households with very low food security had increased to 13.8 percent from 12.1 percent in 2009. Very low food security is characterized by reduced food intake and disrupted eating patterns. Low-income non-SNAP households did not experience worsening food security during this time. ERS analyses of the pre- and post-ARRA periods suggest that future increases in the maximum SNAP benefit of 10 percent would reduce the number of SNAP households with very low food security by about 22 percent, and reducing the maximum benefit by 10 percent would increase that number by about 29 percent. This chart appears in Effects of the Decline in the Real Value of SNAP Benefits from 2009 to 2011, ERR-151, August 2013.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
In his 1964 State of the Union address, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared ?unconditional war on poverty in America? in response to large numbers of Americans ?with incomes too small to even meet their basic needs.? Many of USDA?s food and nutrition assistance programs were designed to address one of these basic needs ?food?and are legacies of the War on Poverty. In the decades following President Johnson?s declaration, total food and nutrition assistance expenditures have fluctuated with changing economic conditions that affect the number of eligible people, their rate of participation, and benefit levels. However, the programs have generally expanded as the U.S. population has grown and coverage of the target population has increased. USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and the five other programs that originated in the era of the War on Poverty accounted for 86 percent of the $109 billion spent by USDA on food and nutrition assistance in fiscal year 2013. This chart appears in??USDA?s Food Assistance Programs: Legacies of the War on Poverty??in the February 2014 issue of ERS?s?Amber Waves?magazine.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of USDA's nutrition assistance programs. The program served an average of 47.6 million people per month in fiscal 2013, or about 15 percent of Americans. The percent of the population receiving SNAP benefits to purchase food varies across States, reflecting differences in need and in program policies. The percent of the State population receiving SNAP ranged from a low of 6.5 in Wyoming to a high of 22.4 in Mississippi and the District of Columbia. The Southeast stands out as a region where all States have a high percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 17.3 to 22.4 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, 16 States saw a decrease in the percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, while 34 States and the District of Columbia saw an increase. Most increases were small, with only 6 States showing more than a 5-percent increase in their State SNAP participation rate. This chart appears in the ERS data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, updated February 11, 2014.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
By 2014, average income (adjusted for inflation) for all U.S. families with children exceeded prerecession levels, and average income had almost completely recovered for all rural families with children as well. For the bottom 25 percent of rural families (when ranked by income), however, average income remained considerably below its prior peak. In 2003, the average income for families in this lowest income quartile was $17,200 (in 2014 dollars) and it fell by 6.0 percent between 2003 and 2007, despite the fact that the U.S. economy was growing. Not surprisingly, incomes for the bottom quartile fell by another 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2010, due to the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009). When economic growth resumed, however, it did not immediately translate into growth for these low-income rural families: by 2012, their average income had fallen by another 10.1 percent. Average income for the bottom quartile rebounded somewhat between 2012 and 2014, but remained 13.4 percent below the 2003 level. This chart is based on the Amber Waves feature, ?Understanding Trends in Rural Child Poverty, 2003-14.?
Thursday, September 1, 2016
ERS?s SNAP Policy Database contains monthly data on a variety of State-level policies related to USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These data are useful to people interested in factors that affect SNAP caseloads and SNAP?s effect on food spending, diet quality, and other outcomes. SNAP provides eligible, low-income households with monthly benefits to purchase food at authorized foodstores. The program has few nonfinancial eligibility criteria, so it provides benefits to a broad range of low-income households. However, legal noncitizens face restrictions on their SNAP eligibility. Welfare reform legislation in 1996 made most legal noncitizens ineligible for SNAP benefits. Subsequent legislation reinstated the eligibility of some legal noncitizens, such as those who met a 5-year residency requirement, and gave States authority to use their own funds to provide SNAP benefits to legal noncitizens who were barred under Federal law. A handful of States passed laws extending eligibility to all child, adult, or elderly legal noncitizens residing in their States who otherwise meet SNAP requirements. In October 2003, SNAP eligibility was restored to all legal noncitizen children under Federal law. Less than 4 percent of SNAP recipients in 2011 were legal noncitizens. Information for this chart can be found in ERS?s SNAP Policy Database.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
USDA?s Senior Farmers? Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors?people age 60 and older with household incomes at or below 185 percent of the Federal poverty level?with coupons to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey at farmers? markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. In fiscal 2013, 835,795 low-income seniors received $20 to $50 in coupons. Of the 8,158 farmers? markets in the United States in 2013, 2,330 reported accepting SFMNP, according to USDA?s National Farmers' Market Directory. In 396 of the more than 3,000 U.S. counties, over half of farmers? markets reported accepting SFMNP coupons, and in another 295 counties, 26 to 50 percent of farmers? markets reported accepting SFMNP. Areas in the Northeast, Southwest, and along the West Coast have a relatively high percent of farmers? markets that accept SFMNP coupons. This chart appears in ?Food Assistance Program Connects Low-Income Seniors with Fresh Farm Produce? in the August 2014 issue of ERS?s Amber Waves magazine.
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Using data from the Census Bureau?s Current Population Survey and a modified official poverty measure, ERS researchers found that rural child poverty rose from 18.7 percent in 2003 to 22.1 percent in 2014. The bulk of this 3.4-percentage point increase?3.2 percentage points?was due to rising income inequality, and not a decline in average incomes. A portion of this increase in inequality, in turn, was driven by changing rural demographics. An increase in the number of children in the average rural family raised poverty by 0.6 percentage points, while declines in the number of adults of prime working age and in the share of household heads that were married raised rural child poverty by 0.9 and 0.7 points, respectively. A slight increase in the average age of the household head helped reduce rural child poverty by 0.5 percentage points. The most beneficial demographic change was a rise in the share of rural household heads with a college degree, which rose from 15.8 to 19.5 percent, helping to reduce child poverty by 0.9 percentage points. The net impact of all these demographic changes was to contribute 0.9 percentage points towards the increase in rural child poverty. This chart is based on a data table found in the May 2016 Amber Waves feature, ?Understanding Trends in Rural Child Poverty, 2003-14.?
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
An average 45.8 million people per month—about 14 percent of the Nation’s population—participated in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in fiscal 2015. This was about 2 percent fewer people than the previous year, and 4 percent fewer than the historical high of 47.6 million participants set in fiscal 2013. SNAP participants in fiscal 2015 received an average of $126.83 per month in benefits to purchase food at authorized food stores. SNAP is one of the Nation’s primary countercyclical assistance programs, expanding during economic downturns and contracting during periods of economic growth. The decrease in SNAP caseloads in fiscal 2014 and 2015 reflects, at least in part, the recovery from the 2007-09 recession reaching lower educated, lower wage workers. This chart appears in ERS’s Food Assistance Landscape: FY 2015 Annual Report, released on March 17, 2016.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Federal expenditures for USDA’s 15 domestic food and nutrition assistance programs totaled $103.6 billion in fiscal 2014—a 5-percent drop from the previous fiscal year and the first decrease since fiscal 2000. The decrease was driven largely by an 8-percent decline in expenditures for USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which totaled $73.9 billion in fiscal 2014. Expenditures for all the other food and nutrition assistance combined increased by less than 1 percent. Lower SNAP expenditures reflected a decrease in both participation and average benefits per person. An average 46.5 million people per month participated in the program in fiscal 2014—2 percent fewer than the previous year—as economic conditions continued to improve. Benefits per person averaged $125.37 per month, or 6 percent less than the previous fiscal year, due largely to the November 2013 termination of the temporary increase in SNAP benefits mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This chart appears in ERS's The Food Assistance Landscape: FY2014 Annual Report, released on March 20, 2015.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Local foods is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture, and the number of local food marketing outlets is increasing. Growing demand for local foods in the United States is, at least in part, the result of consumer interest in environmental and community concerns, including supporting local farmers/economies and increasing access to healthful foods. American farmers and consumers are increasingly finding more opportunities to sell and buy food locally. As of 2014, there were 8,268 farmers’ markets in the United States, up 180 percent since 2007, despite no growth in real farmer-to-consumer (direct) sales between 2007 and 2012. Local food sales may be increasingly indirect, that is through intermediaries rather than farmer-to-consumer. The number of regional food hubs, (enterprises that aggregate locally sourced food to meet wholesale, retail, institutional and even individual demand) has increased almost threefold since 2007, to a total of 302 in 2014. Farm to school programs have multiple objectives, ranging from nutrition education to serving locally-sourced food in school meals. According to the USDA Farm to School Census, 4,322 school districts have farm to school programs, a 430-percent increase since 2007. This chart is found in the ERS report, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress, AP-068, January 2015.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
As USDA’s largest food and nutrition assistance program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides a nutritional safety net for millions of low-income children and adults, a role that is especially important when the economy falters and many Americans lose jobs and income. The increase in SNAP participation during 2008-10—a period of rising unemployment—was the largest participation increase since the current program began in the early 1960s, but the unemployment rate hike was the largest since that time as well. At a time when the unemployment rate increased from 4.5 percent in 2007 to 9.8 percent in 2010, the number of Americans receiving SNAP benefits grew from an average of 26.3 million in 2007 to 40.3 million in 2010. However, when the increase in SNAP participants is adjusted for the increase in the unemployment rate, the caseload increased by 2.7 million participants per 1-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate, which is similar to the previous two economic declines. The statistics for this chart are from the ERS publication, How Economic Conditions Affect Participation in USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
In March 2013, close to 48 million Americans participated in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—a program designed to increase the purchasing power of low-income people by providing them with monthly benefits to purchase food. Changes in SNAP caseloads during periods of economic decline and growth are not driven solely by changes in the number of people who are eligible for the program, but also by changes in the participation rate, or percent of eligible people who choose to participate. Since 1980, between 48 and 75 percent of the people who met SNAP eligibility requirements enrolled in the program. Changes in program policies can affect the participation rate. For example, expanded outreach and simplification of the application process pull more eligible people into SNAP. Economic conditions can also affect participation rates, with periods of economic decline generally boosting the participation rate. This chart appears in the ERS report, How Economic Conditions Affect Participation in USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs, EIB-100.
Friday, June 21, 2013
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest of USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs, providing monthly benefits for purchasing food to those who apply for the program and meet the income and other eligibility criteria. In fiscal year 2012, 46.6 million Americans were enrolled in the program during an average month. ERS’s SNAP Policy Database provides monthly (January 1996-December 2011) information on policies in the 50 States and the District of Columbia that may influence SNAP participation. For example, online applications allow individuals to complete and submit an application for SNAP benefits over the Internet. Applicants then undergo an interview at the SNAP office or over the phone to complete the application process. In many States with online applications, the applicant is allowed to submit the application with an electronic or “e-signature,” instead of mailing a supplemental form with an actual signature. Online applications first became available in January 2002 and were available in 34 States by December 2011. Twenty-four of these 34 States also allowed applicants to submit an e-signature. The State-level information contained in the database can facilitate research on factors that influence SNAP participation and on SNAP's effects on a variety of outcomes, such as food spending and health. The information for this chart can be found in ERS’s SNAP Policy Database.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
On an average day during 2006-08, Americans age 18 and older participating in USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spent 54 minutes in primary eating and drinking, that is, eating and drinking as a main activity. Those who were income-eligible but not receiving SNAP benefits spent 61 minutes in primary eating and drinking, and those with higher incomes spent 70 minutes. About 14 percent of the population shops for groceries on an average day. Of those who shopped on the survey day, SNAP individuals spent an average of 54 minutes shopping--more time than the other two groups. Sixty-four percent of SNAP individuals engaged in meal preparation and cleanup on an average day, spending 75 minutes on this task compared to 58 minutes by higher-income individuals. This longer grocery shopping and meal prep time may be because SNAP individuals spend a larger share of their meal time at home, and they may stretch their food dollars by cooking more dishes from scratch. The data for this chart come from How Much Time Do Americans Spend on Food?, EIB-86, November 2011.
Friday, July 27, 2012
The Summer Food Service Program is one of five major domestic food assistance programs administered by USDA that exclusively or primarily serve the nutritional needs of children. The program served 137 million meals and snacks at a cost to USDA of $373 million in fiscal year 2011, primarily during summer vacation. The number of sites offering summer meals to children grew from 38,471 in 2010 to 39,063 in 2011, while participation remained steady at 2.3 million children after rising in each of the last four years. This chart is from the Child Nutrition Programs: Summer Food Service Program topic page on the ERS website, updated July 11, 2012.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
In 2011, nearly one in seven Americans (14.3 percent of the total population) lived in a household that received food assistance benefits from USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This represents a 3.4 percentage point increase from 2009 when 10.9 percent of Americans were receiving SNAP benefits. The rate of increase varied by State with 10 States, plus the District of Columbia, showing percentage point increases above 4.5 and 8 States with increases below 2.5. A combination of economic and policy factors account for differences among the States. All of the States with the slowest growth in SNAP caseloads had unemployment rates in May 2011 below the national average, and only two of them had enacted policies to expand program eligibility. In contrast, 8 of the 11 jurisdictions with the fastest growing SNAP caseloads had unemployment rates above the national average and all 11 had adopted policies raising SNAP income and/or asset eligibility cutoffs for many households. This chart is one of the new maps in ERS's Food Environment Atlas, updated on June 29, 2012. For more information on SNAP and other nutrition programs, visit the Food and Nutrition Assistance topic page on the ERS website.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of USDA's nutrition assistance programs. The program accounted for 73 percent of all Federal food and nutrition spending in fiscal 2011, serving an average of 44.7 million people per month, or about 14 percent of Americans. The percent of the population receiving SNAP benefits to purchase food varies across States reflecting differences in need, as well as differences in program policies. The Southeast stands out as a region where all States have a high percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 16 to 21 percent. In 2011, 6.4 percent of Wyoming's population received SNAP benefits-the only State with less than 8 percent of the population receiving SNAP benefits. In 2009, there were 12 States with less than 8 percent of their populations participating in SNAP. This chart is one of the new maps in ERS's Food Environment Atlas, updated on June 29, 2012.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The poverty rate for children grew from 17.4 percent in 2006 to 20.7 percent in 2009, as many families' incomes fell during the 2007-09 recession. Official poverty estimates do not include non-cash assistance, such as benefits from USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as income. A recent ERS study found that including SNAP benefits in family income would have lowered the poverty rate for children to 18.7 percent in 2009. SNAP benefits also ensured that the severity of child poverty increased only slightly from 2006 to 2009 despite worsening economic conditions. Severity of poverty was measured using an index that reflects the square of the poverty gap, defined as the average distance of poor families' incomes below the poverty threshold. Without SNAP, the severity measure would have increased from 5.5 in 2006 to 6.8 in 2009, an increase of almost 24 percent. With SNAP benefits, severity rose by only 11 percent. This chart appeared in "SNAP Benefits Alleviate the Incidence and Intensity of Poverty" in the June 2012 issue of ERS's Amber Waves magazine.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Expenditures for USDA's 15 food and nutrition assistance programs account for over two-thirds of USDA's annual budget. Tough economic times found more Americans applying for and receiving food assistance. Federal expenditures for these programs totaled $103.3 billion in fiscal year 2011-an 8-percent increase from 2010. Among the major food assistance programs, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which grew by 10 percent, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which posted an 8-percent increase, expanded the most during fiscal year 2011. This chart appears in the Food and Nutrition Assistance topic on the ERS website, updated February 2012.