The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps North Carolina families put food on the table. But we know now that it accomplishes much more than that.
Research increasingly shows that SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, can ward against the long-term effects on children experiencing poverty, abuse or neglect, parental substance abuse or mental illness, and exposure to violence — events that can take a toll on their well-being as adults. As a new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report finds, SNAP helps form a strong foundation of health and well-being for low-income children by lifting millions of families out of poverty, improving food security, and helping improve health and academic achievement with long-lasting consequences.
It’s doing all that across North Carolina. SNAP is improving our children’s futures.
SNAP delivers more nutrition assistance to low-income children than any other. This year, SNAP will help about 20 million children each month — about one in four U.S. children — while providing about $30 billion in nutrition benefits for children over the course of the year. In North Carolina the impact is even greater. In 2014, SNAP helped about 663,000 children each month, or 29 percent of our state’s kids.
SNAP’s benefits are modest, but they’re well-targeted to children and families that need them the most. While households across the state receive an average of $255 each month, families with children get $390 on average. Furthermore, families experiencing deep poverty receive higher benefits.[i] In 2014, SNAP benefits lifted over 96,000 families out of deep poverty. It’s no surprise that SNAP helps lift more children out of deep poverty than any other government assistance program.
In fact, much of SNAP’s success can be attributed to its design, including that consistent national structure that effectively targets food benefits to those with the greatest need; eligibility rules and a funding structure that make benefits available to children in almost all families with little income and few resources; a design that automatically responds to changes in the economy; and rigorous requirements to ensure a high degree of program integrity.
SNAP is helping to give thousands of North Carolina’s children the foundation they need to succeed. Efforts to reform or enhance it should build on its effectiveness in protecting the well-being of our children — and those nationwide — and preserve the essential program features that contribute to that success.
[i] Deep poverty is defined as income at or below 50 percent of the Federal Poverty Line