Providing Healthy Food to Those Most in Need
Evaluating the Success of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in 2008
Contact: Maria Myers, (609) 275-2399
WASHINGTON, D.C.—February 7, 2011—The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, is the largest of the domestic food and nutrition assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service. SNAP is a central component of the national policy to alleviate hunger and poverty. A new report from Mathematica Policy Research estimates SNAP participation rates for all eligible people and for the working poor in each state for fiscal year 2008. Understanding SNAP performance helps administrators improve the program and ensure benefits for those in need.
Findings—Overall, 67 percent of those eligible for SNAP received benefits in 2008, and 54 percent of the eligible working poor participated. Rates per state varied widely. Some states, such as Maine, Oregon, and West Virginia, have consistently high participation rates, while others, such as California and Wyoming, have consistently low participation rates. Regionally, the Western Region's participation rate of 58 percent was significantly lower than the rates for all other regions. The Midwest Region had the highest participation rate in 2008—74 percent—significantly higher than the rates for all other regions.
Quote—"One important measure of a program's performance is its ability to reach its target population," said Karen Cunnyngham, senior program analyst at Mathematica. "SNAP participation rates vary widely, both by state and over time. Knowing how a particular state's rate has changed over time or whether it is consistently higher or lower than the national rate can help policymakers focus improvement efforts."
"Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2008," by Karen E. Cunnyngham and Laura A. Castner, is available at http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/redirect_pubsdb.asp?strSite=pdfs/nutrition/fns08rates.pdf.
About Mathematica: Mathematica Policy Research, a nonpartisan research firm, provides a full range of research and data collection services, including program evaluation and policy research, survey design and data collection, research assessment and interpretation, and program performance/data management, to improve public well-being. Its clients include federal and state governments, foundations, and private-sector and international organizations. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, N.J., Ann Arbor, Mich., Cambridge, Mass., Chicago, Ill., Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C., has conducted some of the most important studies of health care, education, international, disability, family support, employment, nutrition, and early childhood policies and programs.