CEA Highlights SNAP’s Impact On Low-Income Individuals

Low-income individuals often need to make tough choices.

Should they pay the electricity bill this month? Or, should they purchase food?

The White House Council of Economic Advisers just took a comprehensive look at the country’s largest form of hunger support – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – and reported that it effectively aids eligible, low-income people when it comes to these decisions.

Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP provides financial support for groceries. Each month, it helps 46 million struggling Americans put food on the table.

The program reached 883,000 New Jersey residents in 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Most of those in NJ receiving SNAP benefits – almost half them – are children.

“SNAP’s positive impact on children begins even before birth and lasts well beyond childhood years, improving health, education, and economic outcomes,” the CEA noted.

SNAP acts as both an anti-poverty and health intervention program; the CEA reported that it lifted 4.7 million people nationwide out of poverty in 2014. It raised 67,000 NJ families out of poverty in 2013.

But benefits might be insufficient because monthly aid frequently runs out. The CEA linked the lack of funds near the end of the month to more adult hospital visits and more children in SNAP households getting in trouble at school.

The program has both short-term and long-term positive effects, including an increased likelihood that children will “finish high school and be healthier adults when they have access to SNAP as children,” said Diane Riley, Director of Advocacy at CFBNJ.

Only 77 percent of those eligible in NJ participate, lagging behind the national average. The FoodBank is aware of the impact SNAP has on struggling individuals and works to connect eligible people with the benefits through its outreach program.

CFBNJ has determined that only when people have food adequate to their nutritional needs, can NJ have a safe, stable and productive future.

In addition to outreach, CFBNJ is “committed to calling on Congress to strengthen this important program so that the benefits last through the month, having the greatest impact on our children,” Riley said.

To read the CEA report, click here.

For more information about SNAP benefits and how to sign up, click here.