Monday, December 22, 2014

Growth in Food Stamps Levels Off in 2013

02/24/2014

USDA Economic Research ServiceThe number of participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased by a factor of 2.5 since 2000. Growth in the last year was at the lowest level since 2007, however.

Just as Congress was fighting a bitter battle over the future of the food stamp program, the number of people participating in the program was leveling off, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Participation in the food stamp program – or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – grew by 2.2% from 2012 to 2013, the report from the USDA Economic Research Service says.

That’s the smallest increase since 2007.

SNAP participation grew by 1 million to 47.6 million in 2013, the report says. The average benefit per person fell a few cents from $133.41 per month to $133.08.

Total expenditures on SNAP climbed 1.8% to $79.8 billion in fiscal year 2013.

SNAP benefits were at the heart of the congressional fight over passage of the farm bill in 2013 and 2014. The conservative wing of the Republican Party killed a farm-bill compromise in the House last summer by pulling SNAP out of the legislation. They were concerned, in part, about growth in the program.

Since 2000 the number of people participating in SNAP has grown by 2.5 times, the USDA report says. But that growth rate moderated in 2013.

USDA Economic Research Service SNAP accounted for nearly three-quarters of farm-bill nutrition spending in 2013.

Overall growth in the USDA’s domestic food and nutrition assistance programs grew by 2% from 2012 to 2013, the smallest growth since 2000. But the increase marks the 13th consecutive year that assistance spending climbed and broke the previous historical spending record. (Spending was not adjusted for inflation, however.)

Other programs in USDA nutrition assistance, besides SNAP, are school lunches and breakfasts, Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, accounts for nearly three-quarters of all spending on USDA’s nutrition programs, the report says.

Nutrition programs accounted for 72% of farm-bill expenditures in 2013. Projections for spending in the new farm bill (the 2014 Farm Act) call for nutrition programs to constitute 80% of spending, according to an ERS chart.

The full report, which includes information on all USDA nutrition programs, plus an analysis of food insecurity in the United States, is available on the Economic Research Service website

The table below lists information for SNAP and other USDA nutrition programs.