Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) is the most important resource to help families facing hunger. SNAP provides low-income households with funds to purchase groceries each month, which provides a powerful economic boost for local communities. A household's SNAP benefit is based on their income and expenses, including rent, utilities, and child care expenses.
Accessing SNAP benefits can be difficult due to strict paperwork and interview requirements. Certain populations, such as working families, children of immigrants, and senior citizens, have an especially hard time. For more information, see the USDA report, Trends in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Participation Rates: 2001 to 2008. Also check out summaries of the program basics from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Food Research and Action Center.
In June 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut $127 billion from SNAP over the next 10 years. The proposal recommends changing SNAP from an "entitlement" to a "block grant," meaning that SNAP would no longer be able to respond to increasing need as it did so successfully during the recent recession. See this analysis of Congressman Ryan's budget proposal from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Congress must protect SNAP and its entitlement structure as they debate deficit reduction strategies in Washington.