The Food-Spending Patterns of Households Participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Findings From USDA's FoodAPS

USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to increase the food purchasing power of low-income households. A recent USDA survey—the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS)—provides a unique opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of the food spending of SNAP households. This study finds that, when adjusted for household size and composition, average food spending in SNAP households is lower than in other U.S. households, even those that are eligible for SNAP but choose not to participate. Food-at-home spending accounts for a greater share of the total food expenditures of SNAP households than of other households. SNAP benefits account for over 60 percent of the average food-at-home expenditures of SNAP households. They also play a strong role in the food budgets of households with children and those in poverty, especially those in deep poverty. Among both SNAP households and eligible nonparticipant households, those that are food secure spend more on food than those that are food insecure. Finally, this study finds clear evidence of a cyclical pattern in the food spending of SNAP households across the benefit month.

Issue Date:
Aug 16 2017
Publication Type:
Total Pages:
Series Statement:
Economic Information Bulletin Number 176

 Record created 2017-08-25, last modified 2017-08-25

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