Reaching Those in Need: 2012 SNAP

Illinois food banks and other hunger relief organizations have been successful in identifying and enrolling state residents in the largest of the domestic food and nutrition assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Of the approximate 1,867,000 state residents who were eligible to receive SNAP benefits in 2012, Illinois ranked 12th among all the states with a participation rate of 92%.

The SNAP program’s main purpose is “to permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet…by increasing their purchasing power”. During fiscal year 2014, the program served over 46 million people in an average month.

According to a recently released USDA report, 83% of eligible people in the United States received SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2012. Twenty-two States had rates that were significantly higher (in a statistical sense) than the national rate, including Illinois with its 92% rate, putting it in the top quarter of all states. Among the regions, the Midwest Region had the highest participation rate. Its regional 91% rate was significantly higher than the rates for all of the other areas except the Southeast Region.

However when digging deeper into the data, a slightly different landscape emerges for Illinois. SNAP provides an important support for the “working poor”, i.e., people who are eligible for SNAP benefits and who live in households in which someone earns income from a job. In 2012, Illinois ranked significantly lower at 27th among the states with only 74% of the approximate 836,000 working poor eligible for SNAP who were participating in the program.

For more details access the USDA report at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Reaching2012.pdf

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