Healthy Children - November 2011


SNAP: America’s First Line of Defense Against Hunger

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, was crafted to expand during times of need. And so, as it was designed to do, participation in SNAP rose in response to the recent economic downturn experienced by our country. This increase in Americans participating in FN’ core nutrition program means that children are not experiencing hunger. And a reduction in child hunger has positive effects on the health, physical, emotional and intellectual development of America’s children.

Ultimately, these effects will yield long term benefits for our communities. Healthier kids mean a healthier country. Participation in SNAP also means that underemployed or recently unemployed parents can focus on obtaining a better job or a replacement job, since they don’t need to worry about feeding their children or where their own next meal will come from.

In so many ways, SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger. However, there have recently been a number of inaccurate stories about SNAP in the media. For this reason, FNS has created a document that combats many myths and misperceptions that are currently circulating about this critical program. The document’s key facts about SNAP are data-based and range from who participates in the program to payment accuracy levels.

For example, did you know that nearly 50% of SNAP recipients are children? And that another 8% are seniors? Or that nearly 40% of SNAP recipients live in households that have earned income? For these and other myth-busters, please see the recently updated SNAP fact sheet on our website. Also, learn about how SNAP is reaching underserved populations, and how more SNAP recipients are utilizing farmers markets to purchase healthy, locally-grown foods (page 8).

I’d like to encourage you—our many, diverse and valued partners—to join FNS in distributing this information so that the public and media are armed with facts about this critical nutrition program—our Nation’s first line of defense against hunger.

Ollice Holden
Food Nutrition Service Midwest Regional Administrator