You are here

Loss Of SNAP Is Associated With Food Insecurity And Poor Health In Working Families With Young Children

May 2019

Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, Mariana Chilton, Allison Bovell-Ammon, Molly Knowles, Sharon M. Coleman, Maureen M. Black, John T. Cook, Diana Becker Cutts, Patrick H. Casey, Timothy C. Heeren, Deborah A. Frank


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly known as “food stamps”) is a federal program that helps low-income working families with children, seniors, and people with disabilities afford to purchase food. While SNAP benefits are often insufficient to be able to purchase a healthy, balanced diet, SNAP participation is still associated with greater food security, increased health, and improved economic and educational outcomes among eligible households. SNAP participation in childhood also has lifelong benefits. Like many government assistance programs, when SNAP recipients begin to experience an increase in income, their benefits may be reduced or even terminated. In many cases, this increase in income is not enough to offset the negative effects of losing SNAP benefits. The study found that, on average, those with reductions in or the cutoff of their SNAP benefits saw greater food insecurity (including for children), housing instability, and energy insecurity. They were also more likely to forgo healthcare due to not being able to afford it and experienced poorer health outcomes.

Read Now

Policy Implications

While some may see the negative outcomes associated with the reduction of SNAP benefits as a disincentive for participants to increase their income (and therefore lose benefits), research has shown that SNAP participation is highly unlikely to affect workplace participation. However, instituting a more gradual reduction in SNAP benefits would help to ensure that workplace participation is not harmed. The article also suggests determining SNAP benefits on a longer term basis, such as a three to six month average, rather than monthly income, in order to reduce harm to those that experience unstable/fluctuating income and may need benefits, even during the months when their income is slightly higher than normal.

Find Similar Health Research
Find Similar Social Welfare Research