The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest of the federal food assistance programs, currently serving about 40 million U.S. households. SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) helps income-eligible families by providing a monthly benefit that can be used to purchase groceries. Over 40% of households using SNAP are households with children. The amount received each month is based on family size, income and other household factors. Participation in SNAP has been associated with greater household food security, although SNAP benefits are not always sufficient to ensure food security for every household.

In the decade before the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP benefits were slowly declining, in part due to economic recovery and in part due to changes in SNAP eligibility. Since the start of COVID-19, the SNAP program has been expanded in a number of ways.

Rudd Center research explores the role of SNAP in shaping health behaviors, particularly diet-related behaviors among households facing food insecurity. This includes the SuperShelf and WAGE$ studies. Rudd Center research also addresses participant perceptions of the program, and how SNAP policy changes are likely to affect households facing food insecurity.


SNAP Policies and Low-Wage Households

SNAP eligibility and benefit amounts vary with changes in incomes and, in some cases, with changes in employment. On the horizon across the U.S. are a number of polices that are particularly likely to affect low-wage workers relying on SNAP. This includes proposed national expansion of work restrictions for SNAP. In addition, policies like minimum wage increases have the potential to increase household income, but can also result in a loss of SNAP and other benefits. A RIDGE innovation grant led by Dr. Caspi conducts an in-depth analysis of low-wage workers related to SNAP and work-related policies.