Urban Institute study: SNAP benefits not adequate
February 23, 2018
The Urban Institute released a new study showing that the maximum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit does not cover the cost of an average meal in more than 99 percent of continental U.S. counties.
The Urban Institute said the study found:
» The 20 counties with the largest gap between average meal cost and maximum SNAP benefit include high-cost urban areas such as New York City, San Francisco and Alexandria, Va., as well as rural counties, including some with significant tourism sites. In these 20 counties, the average meal costs 68 to 136 percent more than the SNAP per-meal benefit.
» Among the 10 percent of counties with the largest gap between average meal cost and maximum SNAP benefit, 30 are in California, 27 in Florida, 25 in Colorado, 20 in Virginia and 19 in New York.
» The average meal cost nationally is $2.36, 27 percent higher than the maximum SNAP benefit per meal of $1.86.
» On a monthly basis, SNAP benefits fall short of the cost of an average meal by $46.50 per person.
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The Urban Institute calculated the average meal cost based on the Thrifty Food Plan and adjusted for geographic variations in food prices. The research organization also released an interactive county-by-county map on the study's findings. It is part of the Urban Institute's "From Safety Net to Solid Ground" project, which is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with additional support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.