Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NYS Counties SNAP (Food Stamps) Historical Benefits 1970-2010

With cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or Food Stamp Program) taking place this past week, I thought it would be a good thing to provide some insight into how large the program is in New York State counties.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities  the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) increased SNAP benefits across the board as a way of delivering high “bang-for-the-buck” economic stimulus and easing hardship in response to the economic downturn.  ARRA increased SNAP maximum monthly benefits by 13.6 percent beginning in April 2009.

ARRA provided that SNAP benefit levels would continue at the new higher amount until the program’s regular annual inflation adjustments to the maximum SNAP benefit exceeded those set by ARRA.  The maximum SNAP benefit levels for each household size, which are set each October 1, are equal to the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) from the preceding June scaled to each household size.  The TFP is the cost of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food plan for a family of four to purchase and prepare a bare-bones diet at home.  At the time ARRA was enacted, food price inflation was expected to be high and the TFP cost was expected to exceed the ARRA level in fiscal year 2014.  Food price inflation, however, turned out to be lower than expected over the 2009 to 2013 period, resulting in the pushing out of the date that the TFP was expected to exceed the ARRA level.

In August 2010, Congress passed and the President signed P.L. 111-226, which accelerated the sunset of the ARRA benefit increase to April 2014 and used the estimated savings for state fiscal relief through additional federal funding for school districts to maintain teachers’ jobs and maintaining a higher federal match for Medicaid costs.  Four months later, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (P.L. 111-296), which reauthorized Child Nutrition programs, further accelerated the sunset date of ARRA to October 31, 2013, to offset the cost of the legislation.  As a result, beginning on November 1, 2013, SNAP benefit levels will be based on the cost of the June 2013 TFP, which is lower than the ARRA levels.

The impact of this change will be seen as the country heads forward. In the meantime here are annual data for1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 on how much program funding was provided to the total recipients in each county in New York State. This data comes from the USDA website on SNAP .