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SNAP Trends and Antipoverty Impacts

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called the Food Stamp Program) operated in the shadows of the safety net for its first 30 years in terms of both policy and research interest. A countercyclical program with caseloads that have historically ebbed and flowed with the ups and downs of the economy, SNAP participation has grown rapidly over the past 15 years. This growth has led to diverging views among policymakers: for some, it highlights structural constraints on the labor market; for others, it implies flaws in program design. This brief, the second in a four-part series, examines the changes in SNAP caseloads since 1980, and the factors that contributed to those changes. The brief also summarizes the newest research on the program’s antipoverty impact. The discussion draws on a comprehensive new book, SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well-Being, edited by the authors of this brief.


Economic Support, Employment, Food & Nutrition, Food Assistance, Food Insecurity, Means-Tested Programs, Poverty Measurement, U.S. Poverty Measures, Unemployment/Nonemployment