Cliff Notes


The national anti-hunger safety net is under the greatest threat in decades. Decisions being made right now will determine whether additional cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) – our nation’s first line of defense against hunger – will create new hardship for low-income Americans and plunge our nation off a looming Hunger Cliff.

Washington’s decision to cut SNAP has already begun to affect the more than 47 million Americans who rely on these vital benefits, but its impact will send a ripple effect through our nation.

Who loses when we go over the Hunger Cliff?


SNAP helps make ends meet for America’s working poor.  
More than 40 percent of SNAP recipients live in a household where at least one person is working – but their income is too low to afford enough food for their families. (Source:  USDA)

Nearly 80% of SNAP recipients are women and children.
Households with children are consistently more likely than average to experience difficulty affording food, and low-income households with children are especially vulnerable.  Children alone make up 45% of all SNAP recipients. (Source: USDA)

SNAP keeps kids healthy.
Young children enrolled in SNAP have lower rates of nutritional deficiency than other low-income children. (Source: Food Research and Action Center)

Older Adults

3.4 million elderly households rely on SNAP. (Source: USDA)

About 1 in 5 SNAP recipients are elderly and/or disabled.
Most elderly SNAP recipients (80%) live alone. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

People Living in Poverty

SNAP is heavily focused on the poor.  
Over 91% of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the poverty line, and 55% goes to households with incomes below half of the poverty line (about $9,500 for a family of three). (Source:  USDA)

SNAP lessens the extent and severity of poverty and unemployment for American families.
83% of SNAP recipients have income below the poverty line, and over 20% have no cash income. (Source: USDA)

SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, including 2.1 million children.
SNAP lifted 1.5 million children out of “deep poverty” (50 percent of the poverty line) in 2011, more than any other benefit program. (Source:  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

The Economy

SNAP is an economic stimulus
Every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.73 in economic activity. (Source: Moody’s)

SNAP benefits are one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus.
After unemployment insurance, Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits the most-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.  (Source:  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

SNAP supports jobs at every link in the food chain.
Each $1 billion in SNAP funding enables 14,000 people to keep or find jobs, mainly in food related industries. (Source: Center for American Progress)  By this estimate, the $4.1 billion in SNAP cuts passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee in its version of the Farm Bill will result in the elimination of more than 56,000 jobs.

SNAP feeds America’s farm economy.
Twenty cents of every SNAP dollar spent on food goes back to our nation’s farmers. (USDA)