Erin Bronchetti

The real value of SNAP benefits and health outcomes

The food stamp program (SNAP) is one of the most important elements of the social safety net and is the second largest anti-poverty program for children in the U.S. (only the EITC raises more children above poverty). The program varies little across states and over time, which creates challenges for quasi-experimental evaluation. Notably, SNAP benefit levels are fixed across 48 states; but local food prices vary widely, leading to substantial variation in the real value of SNAP benefits.

Variation in food prices and SNAP adequacy for purchasing the thrifty food plan

Whether Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are adequate to provide food security for eligible households is an important and timely policy question. While the nominal value of SNAP benefits is fixed across states (except for Hawaii and Alaska), variation in food prices across geographic areas is dramatic, and the real value of SNAP benefits varies widely across the U.S. Our research provides new evidence on geographic variation in the adequacy of SNAP benefits to purchase the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP).