Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Use Increases Slightly in 2012

Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Use Increases Slightly in 2012

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

In 2012, nearly 14 percent of all American households relied on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- the program formerly known as food stamps, according to new research from the Carsey Institute at UNH. The new research is presented in the Carsey Institute brief “SNAP Use Increased Slightly In 2012.” 

The key findings are as follows: 

  • In 2012, 13.6 percent of American households reported receiving SNAP benefits, suggesting that the multi-year trend of rising receipt rates may be slowing. This represents an increase from 13.0 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent in 2007.
  • More than three quarters – 76.7 percent – of families reporting SNAP receipt in 2012 included at least one family member who was working, the same as before the recession.
  • Reports of SNAP receipt in 2012 increased among populations at particular risk for food insecurity, including households with children, seniors, householders with a disability, and the poor, showing that SNAP benefits still reached many traditionally targeted populations.
  • Households that are traditionally considered less economically vulnerable – such as married couples and those without children – also reported higher levels of SNAP receipt in 2012, suggesting that new groups may be in need of assistance in the wake of the Great Recession.
  • Nearly 46 percent of unmarried mothers reported SNAP receipt, a rate nearly four times as high as that among married couples with children (12.3 percent)

“Any cuts to program funding should consider the vulnerable populations that have increasingly relied upon these benefits in a tenuous economy where the social safety net is already frail,” said Jessica Carson, vulnerable families research scientist at the Carsey Institute who conducted the research. 

The complete Carsey Institute report about this research is available at http://carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publication/924. 

This analysis is based on U.S. Census Bureau estimates from the 2007 to 2012 American Community Survey, using information aggregated from detailed tables available on American FactFinder.