An Examination of the Adequacy of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefit Levels: Impacts on Food Insecurity

Craig Gundersen, Elaine Waxman, Amy S. Crumbaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves as the primary tool to alleviate food insecurity in the United States. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated in numerous studies, but the majority of SNAP recipients are still food insecure. One factor behind this is the difference in food prices across the country-SNAP benefits are not adjusted to reflect these differences. Using information from Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap (MMG) project, we compare the cost of a meal by county based on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP)-which is used to set the maximum SNAP benefit-with the cost of the average meal for low-income food-secure households. We find that the cost of the latter meal is higher than the TFP meal for over 99 percent of the counties. We next consider the reduction in food insecurity if, by county, the maximum SNAP benefit level was set to the cost of the average meal for low-income food-secure households. We find that if this approach were implemented, there would be a decline of 50.9 percent in food insecurity among SNAP recipients at a cost of $23 billion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-447
Number of pages15
JournalAgricultural and Resource Economics Review
Volume48
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Map the Meal Gap
  • SNAP
  • food insecurity
  • food stamps
  • poverty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An Examination of the Adequacy of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefit Levels: Impacts on Food Insecurity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this