Journal Article

District Digest: Understanding SNAP's Role

Abstract: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a key component of the United States' social safety net and supports millions of Americans annually by providing food vouchers for households with low income and assets. SNAP supports households enduring persistent poverty as well as those temporarily in economic distress, as its enrollment expands during recessions to accommodate the unemployed. Economists Robert Moffitt of Johns Hopkins University and James Ziliak of the University of Kentucky have explained that SNAP operates like an automatic stabilizer — that is, a counterweight to the boom-and-bust economic cycle — by subsidizing low-income Americans with almost universal eligibility during economic downturns. This article explores how SNAP enrollment varies over time and across Fifth District states. The report also investigates the program's effects on the outcomes of benefit recipients and its function as a key resource within low- and moderate-income communities. Community organizations play a role in facilitating access to SNAP and supplementing its benefits via food banks, local kitchens, and farmers markets.

Keywords: Community Development Finance; economic inequality; Poverty;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

Part of Series: Econ Focus

Publication Date: 2024-04

Volume: 24

Issue: 1Q/2Q

Pages: 27-30