Overall, the brief demonstrates that poverty and food insecurity have serious consequences for health and well-being in both the short term and long term. Extensive research shows that SNAP plays a critical role in alleviating poverty and food insecurity and improving dietary intake and health, especially among children. For example:
- A recent study on this topic finds that early exposure to SNAP in childhood has favorable impacts on metabolic and economic outcomes in adulthood.
- Young, food-insecure children who participated in SNAP had fewer hospitalizations than comparable non-participants and were less likely to be in poor/fair health, based on responses from more than 17,000 caregivers in six urban
- National food consumption data (as measured by USDA’s Healthy Eating Index) show that each additional SNAP dollar increased a
household’s score for overall dietary quality.
- Increasing participation in the federal nutrition programs—including SNAP—was recommended in two Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports focused on child obesity prevention.
However, inadequate benefits—the most important weakness of SNAP—severely limit the program’s ability to do more to improve the health of low-income Americans. Regular monthly
benefits are just too low to allow a family to purchase a healthful diet on a consistent basis. Research indicates that increasing SNAP benefits – not cutting them as some have proposed in the Farm Bill – would improve the health of the nation. (FRAC: Read the full brief)