Giving Compass’ Take:
• Laura Wheaton, Emily Peiffer, and Victoria Tran explain how SNAP frees up resources for families and lifts them out of poverty.
• How can funders work to increase access to SNAP benefits? How can this program be made more effective?
• Read about how states have made it easier to access SNAP benefits.
As the debate around SNAP intensifies, it is crucial to understand the program’s effects. In addition to helping low-income Americans purchase food and reducing food insecurity, our recent analysis finds that SNAP removed 8.4 million people from poverty in 2015, reducing the poverty rate from 15.4 percent to 12.8 percent.
But what does it mean to remove people from poverty?
To estimate SNAP’s antipoverty effects, we use the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), but we enhance the underlying survey data to more fully capture the effects of SNAP and other benefits.
We first determine whether a family’s total resources (income and benefits minus taxes and necessary expenses) are greater than or equal to the federal poverty line as defined by the SPM. We then subtract SNAP benefits from the family’s resources and recalculate their status. If a family’s resources are above the SPM poverty line before subtracting SNAP but are below the poverty line when SNAP is excluded, that family is counted as being removed from poverty by SNAP.
In other words, if that family didn’t have SNAP benefits, they would be below the SPM poverty line. By receiving SNAP, some of the family’s resources are freed up for other necessities, such as clothing, housing, and medical expenses.
Read the full article about SNAP removing people from poverty by Laura Wheaton, Emily Peiffer, and Victoria Tran at Urban Institute.
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