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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is one of the most important welfare programs the United States government offers. In fiscal year 2015, one in every seven Americans received SNAP assistance. Previously called food stamps as they were first introduced with the passing of the Food and Agriculture Act in 1977, this program has been helping individuals struggling with food insecurity for decades (Ziliak 2016). Benefits are no longer dispersed with physical stamps, restricting what households can and cannot buy. Now benefits are distributed via a debit card-type system. This is where the EBT gets added to the program in Electronic Benefit Cards. There are individuals in every state and U.S. territory who participate in the SNAP program in some capacity (DeSilver 2023). To receive assistance, “a household qualifies for the program if it has a gross monthly income at or below 130% of the federal poverty level as well as a net monthly income at or below 100% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four in 2023, this works out to $3,007 in gross monthly income and $2,313 in net monthly income” (DeSilver 2023). The amount of assistance that each household receives is dependent on their income. The maximum benefit is determined by the Thrifty Food Plan, which is the lowest cost possible plan for a household to be able to purchase enough food and for it to still be nutritious. This amount is determined by the number of people within a household but is consistent throughout the contiguous United States (Ziliak 2016). This program is very beneficial to Americans as it allows them to put more of their paychecks towards bills and other expenses besides food. In addition, it allows participants to experience economic mobility. In 2016, SNAP raised 7.3 million people above the poverty line (Keith-Jennings et al. 2019). Millions of Americans take advantage of the SNAP program today. As of April 2023, 41.9 million Americans or 12.5% of the population receive monthly SNAP benefits (DeSilver 2023).


3rd Place, Undergraduate Division, 2024 Booth Library Awards for Excellence in Student Research and Creative Activity

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