The Right to Food in the U.S.: The Role of SNAP

The “right to food” has been formally implemented in some countries and, in other contexts, it is used as an exhortation for governments or other entities to take actions to reduce food insecurity. What exactly is meant by this right, how the demands of meeting this right can be met, whether countries can actually meet this right, and multiple other questions have emerged in discussions about the right to food. Often absent from discussions about the right to food is how specific food assistance programs can and do play a role in reducing food insecurity and, hence, helping to meet the goal of the right to food. In particular, whether the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is a useful model for ensuring the right to food. I begin this paper with a consideration of the right to food and the obligations this imposes on a society based on Roman Catholic teachings on the right to food. If a country is to have a right to food, whether or not this is being met should be measurable. I therefore consider a measure, the Food Security Supplement (FSS) that has been used in the U.S. Under the auspices of this definition, I discuss five components of a right to food and how SNAP does and does not meet these components. In concluding remarks, I discuss where this paper falls short and potential ways of furthering this conversation.

Issue Date:
Dec 20 2018
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2018-12-20, last modified 2020-10-28

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