University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participation during the economic recovery of 2003 to 2007

The recent sharp rise in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants has received much attention in the press and from policymakers.1 Since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, SNAP participation has increased to its highest level ever, serving 40.3 million Americans each month, more than 13 percent of the population, in fiscal year 2010.2 Less attention has been given to the fact that SNAP participation also increased during the preceding economic expansion. Between fiscal years 2003 and 2007, total SNAP participation increased from 21 million to 27 million, an increase of almost 30 percent. This rise marked the first time in the program’s history that participation increased during a period of economic recovery and growth.

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Food & Nutrition, Food Assistance, Food Insecurity

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