ERS Charts of Note
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
USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served an average of 45.8 million people per month in fiscal 2015. The percent of Americans participating in the program declined from 15.0 percent in 2013 to 14.2 percent in 2015, marking the second consecutive year of a decline in the percent of the population receiving SNAP. Between 2014 and 2015, 39 States and the District of Columbia saw a decrease in the percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, while 11 States experienced no change or small increases. The percent of State populations receiving SNAP benefits ranged from a low of 5.6 in Wyoming to a high of 21.7 in New Mexico, reflecting differences in need and in program policies. Southeastern States have a particularly high share of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 16.4 to 21.3 percent. Maine had the largest decline from 2014 to 2015, with the percent of residents receiving SNAP decreasing from 17.3 to 15.2 percent. This chart appears in the ERS data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, updated June 3, 2016.
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
In recent years, the number of farmers? markets that accept benefits from USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has grown?more than tripling between fiscal 2008 and 2012 and making it possible for more SNAP participants to use their benefits to acquire fruits, vegetables, and other local foods from these markets. Of the 8,158 farmers? markets in the U.S. in 2013, 2,046 reported accepting SNAP, according to USDA?s National Farmers Market Directory.? This translates to a national average of 25 percent of farmers? markets, but the proportion of SNAP-accepting markets is not uniform across regions.? In 156 counties, all farmers? markets reported accepting SNAP benefits and in 242 counties, over half of farmers? markets reported accepting SNAP.? In 1,444 counties (66 percent of counties with at least one farmers? market), no farmers? market reported accepting SNAP. Areas in the Northeast, Southwest, and along the West Coast tend to display a relatively high percentage of farmers? markets that report accepting SNAP. This chart is among the new maps in ERS?s Food Environment Atlas, updated on February 18, 2014.
Thursday, September 1, 2016
Understanding where U.S. households acquire food, what they acquire, and what they pay is essential to identifying which food and nutrition policies might improve diet quality. USDA?s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) provides a complete picture of these key aspects during a 7-day period in 2012 by including both food at home and food away from home acquisitions. Higher-income households are more likely to visit large grocery stores (88 versus 83 percent) and small or specialty food stores (20 versus 14-15 percent) than households that participate in USDA?s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and lower-income non-SNAP households. SNAP households are more likely to report an acquisition in the ?all other stores? category compared with both non-SNAP groups (51 versus 39-41 percent), which includes convenience stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Considering food away from home, SNAP households are least likely to visit restaurants/other eating places when compared to lower-income non-SNAP and higher-income households. In addition, a larger share of SNAP households obtain food from schools (20 percent) than lower-income non-SNAP households (12 percent) and higher-income households (14 percent). Finally, higher-income households are twice as likely to get food from work than the other two groups, which is not surprising given their greater employment rates. The data for this chart can be found in the ERS report, Where Households Get Food in a Typical Week: Findings from USDA?s FoodAPS, released on July 27, 2016.
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.
Friday, December 11, 2015
USDA provides healthful foods to low-income households in Native American tribal areas through its Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Due to access reasons, some households participate in FDPIR as an alternative to USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Warehouses, tribal stores, and local sites are used to distribute the USDA foods. Households living on tribal lands that qualify for food assistance can switch between SNAP and FDPIR on a month-to-month basis. ERS researchers calculated distances to SNAP-authorized supermarkets and FDPIR outlets in American Indian Tribal Areas, Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Areas, and Alaska Native Village Statistical Areas. They found that 30 percent of children, 29 percent of working-age adults, and 28 percent of older adults in these tribal areas lived 1 mile or less from a SNAP-authorized supermarket or a FDPIR outlet in 2010. Nationally, 58 percent of children and 57 to 60 percent of adults lived 1 mile or less from a supermarket or large grocery store in 2010. This chart appears in “Measuring the Food Access Gap in Native American Tribal Areas” in ERS’s December 2015 Amber Waves magazine.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
In general, households are eligible to participate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) if their gross monthly incomes do not exceed 130 percent of the poverty line, and if they meet other net income and asset criteria. Households with disabled or elderly members can qualify with higher incomes, and some States have adopted higher income thresholds. ERS researchers recently linked American Community Survey (ACS) data to SNAP administrative records from the State of New York to get a more complete look at whether SNAP benefits are reaching the poorest households. When researchers adjusted the households, as defined by the ACS, to reflect the SNAP definition of a household, they found that 71.6 percent of New York households receiving SNAP had annual incomes at or below 130 percent of poverty, compared with 63.1 percent using just the ACS data. Fifty-three percent of the New York SNAP households with incomes above 130 percent of poverty had an elderly or disabled member or a child. New York allows households with dependent care expenses to qualify for SNAP with gross monthly incomes up to 200 percent of poverty. This chart appears in “Linking Administrative and Survey Data Provides a More Complete Picture of Whether SNAP Benefits Reach the Poorest Households” in the September 2015 issue of Amber Waves magazine.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Data from USDA’s new National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (or FoodAPS) show that most U.S. households use their own vehicles for their primary food shopping. However, households that participate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are more likely to rely on someone else’s car, walk, bike, or take public transit than households with incomes above the poverty thresholds. Sixty-eight percent of SNAP participants used their own cars for food shopping, compared to 83 percent of non-SNAP households with incomes between 101 and 185 percent of poverty and 95 percent of households with incomes above 185 percent of poverty. Travel modes of non-participants with income below the poverty line are similar to those of SNAP households. Among SNAP households, 19 percent reported using someone else’s car to do their primary shopping, and 13 percent walked, biked, or used a shuttle or public transportation. How one travels to a grocery store can influence what gets purchased; traveling by bus or walking limits purchases to what can be carried or pulled in a cart. A person needing to borrow someone else’s car—or share a ride to a store—may not be able to shop as frequently or at the times when food supplies are running low. This chart is from the ERS report, Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel to Get There?, March 2015.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increases the purchasing power of eligible, low-income people by providing them with monthly benefits to purchase food at authorized food stores. SNAP benefits can also be used to buy food at authorized farmers’ markets and from direct marketing farmers (farmers who sell agricultural products directly to consumers) who have been licensed by USDA to accept SNAP benefits. The number of authorized markets and farmers has been steadily increasing in recent years. In fiscal 2014, 5,175 farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers were licensed by USDA to accept SNAP benefits—a 28-percent increase from a year earlier. In fiscal 2014, $18.8 million of SNAP benefits were redeemed at farmers’ markets and direct marketing farms, up from fiscal 2013 redemptions of $17.5 million. This chart updates a chart found in the ERS report, Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress, January 2015.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served an average of 46.5 million people per month in fiscal 2014. The percent of Americans participating in the program declined from 15.0 percent in 2013 to 14.6 percent in 2014, marking the first decline in the percent of the population receiving SNAP since 2001. Between 2013 and 2014, 42 States and the District of Columbia saw a decrease in the percent of residents receiving SNAP benefits, while 8 States experienced small increases. The percent of State populations receiving SNAP benefits ranged from a low of 6.1 in Wyoming to a high of 21.9 in Mississippi, reflecting differences in need and in program policies. Southeastern States have a particularly high share of residents receiving SNAP benefits, with participation rates of 15.8 to 21.9 percent. Utah had the largest decline from 2013 to 2014 and joined Wyoming and North Dakota as States with less than 8 percent of the population receiving SNAP benefits. This chart appears in the ERS data product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials, updated May 7, 2015.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
A new survey funded by USDA, the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (or FoodAPS), asked the main food shopper of the household where they did most of their food shopping. Researchers compared the distance to this store to the distance to the nearest supermarket or supercenter authorized to accept benefits from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-SM/SC). Researchers found that on average, all households—those receiving food assistance and those not—bypass the SNAP-SM/SC closest to their home to shop at another store, which may or may not be SNAP authorized, for their main grocery purchases. The average SNAP participant lived 1.96 miles from the nearest SNAP-SM/SC, but traveled 3.36 miles to their primary store for food shopping. WIC-participating households were 1.92 miles from the nearest SNAP-SM/SC, but traveled 3.15 miles to do their main grocery shopping. Non-poor households traveled 3.98 miles, while the closest SNAP-SM/SC was 2.21 miles from their home. Store proximity may be important, but price, quality, and selection also affect where households shop. In addition, households may food shop on their way home from work or other activities. The statistics for this chart are from the ERS report, Where Do Americans Usually Shop for Food and How Do They Travel to Get There?, released on March 23, 2015.
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.
Friday, March 6, 2015
Research has shown that participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) tend to consume lower quality diets than nonparticipants. Pessimism about the value of dietary change may be one of the culprits. Analysis of responses to questions in the Flexible Consumer Behavior Survey module of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that 40 percent of SNAP participants indicated that they felt no need to change their diets; in contrast, only 25 percent of higher income shoppers felt no need to make dietary changes. (Higher income adults are those with household incomes above 185 percent of the Federal poverty threshold.) SNAP participants were also more likely than other respondents to agree with the statement "some people are born to be fat and some thin; there is not much you can do to change this.” This may indicate differences in perceptions of self-efficacy among SNAP participants compared to higher income shoppers. Alternatively, it may be that the other stresses of living in poverty make maintaining diet and health as a top priority more difficult. This chart appears in “SNAP Households Must Balance Multiple Priorities to Achieve a Healthful Diet” in the November 2014 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Dietary intake data reveal that like most Americans, the dietary patterns of participants in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) do not meet recommendations. ERS researchers used data from the 2003-10 waves of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess the diets of adult SNAP participants and other adult respondents relative to the 2010 version of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI). The HEI summarizes how closely one’s diet conforms to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Total HEI scores for adult SNAP participants averaged 46 out of a possible 100 HEI points, compared to 50 for income-eligible adults not receiving SNAP benefits, and 53 for higher-income adults (those with household incomes above 185 percent of the Federal poverty threshold). Adult SNAP participants scored lower on many components of the HEI; sodium intake was the only HEI component on which SNAP participants did better than higher-income adults. An expanded version of this chart appears in “SNAP Households Must Balance Multiple Priorities to Achieve a Healthful Diet” in the November 2014 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
The new U.S. farm —the Agricultural Act of 2014—reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Nation's largest food and nutrition assistance program. In fiscal 2013, Federal spending for the program totaled $79.8 billion and an average of 47.6 million people per month received SNAP benefits. The Act maintains the program's basic eligibility guidelines, and States retain the option, within Federal guidelines, to coordinate SNAP eligibility requirements with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Historical evidence suggests that SNAP expenditures will decline even without stricter eligibility limits, as caseloads contract in response to improving economic conditions. In fact, growth in monthly participation has slowed since late 2009. The Act restricts access to an income deduction related to home heating and cooling costs that boosted SNAP benefits for some households. The Act also provides additional SNAP funding for enhanced employment and training activities for SNAP recipients, expanded efforts to prevent SNAP trafficking (the illegal exchange of SNAP benefits for cash), and matching funds for projects that encourage SNAP recipients to purchase fruits and vegetables by reducing their cost.? Find this chart and additional information on ERS?s Agricultural Act of 2014: Highlights and Implications web pages.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment insurance are two countercyclical assistance programs. In economic downturns, more people become eligible for the programs and participation grows. A recent ERS report found that the poorest SNAP households are the most likely to rely on SNAP alone without unemployment insurance, perhaps because they lack the work histories and sufficient earnings to be eligible for unemployment insurance. In 2009, just 6.7 percent of SNAP households with annual incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line also received unemployment insurance. In comparison, 22.6 percent of SNAP households with incomes between 150 and 199 percent of poverty received unemployment insurance. In 2005 (a full-employment year), 3.6 percent of SNAP households in the lowest income group received unemployment assistance. The statistics for this chart are from the ERS report, Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance: How Tight Are the Strands of the Recessionary Safety Net?, November 2013.
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.