The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

A research brief from Healthy Eating Research, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, calls for increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to address food insecurity, improve diet quality, reduce poverty, and stabilize the economy. The brief, The Impact of Increasing SNAP Benefits on Stabilizing the Economy, Reducing Poverty and Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (5 pages, PDF), found that current SNAP benefits  which provide, on average, $1.40 per meal per person, are insufficient to provide healthy meals for program beneficiaries — nearly half of whom are children — in 99 percent of U.S. counties. Previous studies have shown that increased spending on SNAP reduces food insecurity, lifts families out of poverty, helps improve nutrition, and creates a multiplier effect by generating jobs and income for those working in food production, distribution, marketing, and sales. In addition, new research from the USDA Economic Research Service found that for every $1 in new SNAP benefits, up to $2 of economic activity is generated. While Congress has passed three COVID-19 aid bills that include SNAP provisions, they must be approved on a state-by-state basis and are time-limited, whereas the economic fallout of the public health crisis may last for years — all the more reason, the brief's authors argue, for future federal policy reforms to consider the evidence supporting an increase in the monthly benefit.