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About SNAP

Learn the legislative history and program basics.

Nearly half of SNAP participants are children. Accordingly, it plays a significant role in improving the health, academic performance, and overall well-being of children. Since its introduction under the Food Stamp Act of 1977, SNAP went through a number of policy changes and tremendously supported the economic well-being and food security of millions of American families and children including by reducing the racial disparities in poverty. SNAP supports the nation’s GDP and stimulates local economic activity. As an entitlement program, every American can receive benefits as long as income and other eligibility requirements are fulfilled. The federal government provides the full cost of the benefit families receive while the cost to administer the program is shared between states and the federal government.

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The Legislative Process for SNAP

Read about how updates and changes are made to SNAP through the Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill is federal legislation that sets policy and funding structure for most federal agriculture and some nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and SNAP Education. The legislation also includes programs that incentivize healthy food purchasing, emergency feeding programs and commodity nutrition programs for seniors.

Congress reauthorizes the Farm bill every five years. It was most recently reauthorized in 2018 under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 and expires in 2023. This section provides resources to keep you up to date on our current and past Farm Bill policy priorities and ongoing legislative and regulatory updates from Congress and USDA respectively.

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SNAP Updates through COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Learn more about the changes made to SNAP outside of the usual Farm Bill process in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SNAP is a counter-cyclical program and is intended to respond to changes in economic conditions—when the economy is lagging, SNAP participation increases to support people when they need additional financial support.

COVID-19 brought an economic crisis resulting in layoffs and income disruptions across sectors, disproportionally affecting millions of low-income workers and communities of color. In this time of crisis, SNAP responded. Congress authorized a range of program flexibilities and waivers since the beginning of the pandemic through successive legislative actions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the CARES Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act. Some of those flexibilities include:

  • Waiver of in-person interviews for initial or recertification applications,
  • Emergency allotments to meet increased food demand,
  • increasing SNAP benefit by 15% across the broad, and
  • suspending work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs).