2015 SNAP Challenge: Reflection and Need for Action

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

SNAP Challenge: Final Reflections 

How do you afford to eat on a budget of just $4 per day? Such a tight budget may seem unlivable, but it is the reality of nearly 920,000 individuals in Virginia who receive SNAP benefits. Experiencing this difficulty is one of the main goals of the SNAP Challenge, as participants have learned firsthand this week.


When living on a SNAP budget, where you grocery shop can be just as important as what you buy. Many SNAP Challenge participants had the ability to shop at multiple stores in their area to stretch their budget, but this is often not an option for SNAP recipients. Many individuals who receive SNAP benefits struggle with food accessibility due to food deserts and wide disparities in food costs across the country. This means that grocery stores may be difficult to access and their prices can further stretch the already tight SNAP budget.


To a SNAP recipient with limited access to food providers, high prices and low benefits can make it extremely difficult to get adequate nutrition on a SNAP budget. This problem can be addressed by increasing SNAP benefits to better enable individuals to afford the food they need. A recent report detailed that SNAP benefit increases helped to reduce food insecurity rates during the Great Recession, while the premature benefit cuts in 2013 increased the likelihood of both household and child food insecurity. This finding shows that the amount of SNAP benefits matters and that food insecurity rates can be reduced if SNAP benefits are increased.


The slow reduction of national food insecurity rates (only 0.4% from 2013 to 2014) is a clear sign that SNAP reform is needed. Increases in SNAP benefits have been shown to greatly enhance food accessibility for SNAP recipients, while SNAP reductions have been detrimental to millions of Americans. It is therefore clear that SNAP benefit increases are needed and beneficial. SNAP reform will best support individuals who rely on food assistance, and the change is needed now.

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