Americans Benefit From SNAP

What share of residents participated in SNAP in 2021?

In the fiscal year of 2021, some 41,500,000 Americans participated in the SNAP program, about 1 in every 8 Americans (or 13% of the population). In some states, the proportion of participating residents was as high as one in every four people (or 25%), showing that despite its shortcomings, SNAP remains the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.

The big picture

A wide range of Americans benefit from SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps). In the fiscal year of 2021, some 41,500,000 Americans participated, including individuals as well as those in families with children or elderly or disabled members; people who work full time as well as those unable to work; people living above the poverty line but who find who have limited access to food, people living well above the poverty line but experiencing job loss or other kinds of emergencies, and those living in deep poverty at or below 50% of the poverty line. Despite significant shortcomings examined throughout this museum, as this map shows, SNAP remains the nation’s most important anti-hunger program.  

While federal law sets national eligibility rules and benefit amounts for the SNAP program, state and county governments determine application requirements and procedures as well as what kind and amounts of benefits participants receive. Some state and county governments have used this flexibility to expand eligibility for the program by eliminating barriers to access, reducing paperwork requirements, and developing easy-to-use online portals. But as this exhibit shows, other states and counties continue to make it difficult for residents to apply, imposing significant barriers to access that result in fewer residents participating regardless of how many of them struggle with food insecurity. 

“A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Americans Benefit From SNAP