What the SNAP?
All of us want to provide our families with healthy food. But nearly 15% of Kansans are food insecure, meaning they lack access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a federally funded program that helps hard-working Americans afford food that is nutritionally adequate. In 2016, the program helped 254,000 working Kansans put food on the table.
SNAP is part of the Farm Bill, which sets national agricultural policy. With a new Farm Bill being introduced to Congress in 2018, it’s critical to understand SNAP and to ensure that former Kansas Senator Bob Dole’s hard work on the food assistance program continues to benefit the people who need it.
Believe it or not, all Kansans benefit from the SNAP program. Here’s how:
More than 75% of SNAP participants in Kansas are families with children. With almost 17% of Kansas children living below the poverty line, the food assistance program is essential to help parents afford wholesome, nutritious food for their kids, making them healthier and more successful in school.
82% of SNAP recipients in Kansas have at least one working household member and are using food assistance to help them make ends meet. The average monthly SNAP benefit for each household member is $112, or around $1.12 per meal. The SNAP program also helps those who can’t work—like elderly and disabled people—afford adequate food.
SNAP helps provide all of us with better-quality food. You may have heard of a “food desert,” which means an area where people have limited access to fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. According to the USDA, a food desert is usually caused by a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets and healthy food providers, and many big cities actually have many food deserts. People living in these areas may be forced to shop at convenience stores, which carry mostly processed or sugary foods lacking in nutritional value, simply because they happen to live too far from a real grocery store.
Lack of access to healthy food doesn’t just affect people in big cities. Twenty percent of Kansas households participating in SNAP are in small towns and rural areas. There are probably families in your neighborhood struggling to find or afford healthy food.
So how does SNAP assistance to people in food deserts add up to better-quality food for all Kansas consumers?
SNAP benefits make it easier for many Kansas families to afford groceries, increasing the demand for fresh food. This helps our ag-dependent economy and brings in more grocery stores and farmers’ markets to our communities, reducing the number of food deserts and making it easier for all of us to access healthy food.
The Kansas economy benefits, too. $1 in SNAP purchases generates $1.70 in economic activity, a real plus in a weak economy. In fact, SNAP benefits pumped about $342 million into Kansas in 2016 alone.
But not all people who truly need food assistance get it—only 74% of all eligible Kansans are receiving SNAP benefits.
Help spread the word about SNAP to make sure the federal tax dollars we are already spending for the program come back to benefit our friends and neighbors. The more eligible families that participate in the program, the more our state will reap the rewards.