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SNAP Series: What is SNAP?

March 5, 2018 – The first in a series of blog posts to answer questions about SNAP and what it means to people struggling with hunger.

A single parent raising two kids while working and getting a degree, a retired military veteran who volunteers at the neighborhood school, and a 25 year old with autism who struggles to keep a job—all of them have something in common.

They all benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. SNAP benefits allow people to make their grocery purchases at a convenient time with a type of debit card. Recipients are able to purchase foods that meet their dietary needs and cultural preferences. Above all, SNAP benefits help people be healthy and successful.

SNAP is the most important anti-hunger program in the country, especially during economic downturns. The federal government pays the full cost of SNAP benefits and splits the cost of administering the program with states, which operate the program. Unlike other benefit programs, SNAP is available to almost all households with low-incomes. The federal government sets the eligibility rules and benefit levels but states are able to tailor certain aspects of the program.

SNAP benefits are spent in grocery stores, corner markets, and farmers markets in nearly every community—helping strengthen local economies for everyone.

Watch Kathy’s story about what SNAP means to her: