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September 23rd, 2018

Recognizing the Importance of SNAP in Rural America

By Jordan Rasmussen, jordanr@cfra.org, Center for Rural Affairs

In the nation’s rural communities, where the food that feeds the world is grown, food insecurity is endured by millions of children, seniors, and hardworking Americans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps stave off hunger in one in six rural households.

Yet, the president’s budget for 2019 outlines a nearly $214 billion budget cut to SNAP over the next decade. A cut of this magnitude would undoubtedly impact rural Americans.

Formerly known as the nation’s food stamp program, from 2010 to 2015, rural America’s SNAP participation rate rose from 12.5 percent to 16 percent, exceeding the national average. Overall SNAP enrollments have declined following the Great Recession, however, rural SNAP rates have remained high as economies have been slow to recover.

Given the broader socioeconomics of rural America, the importance of SNAP is heightened.

SNAP exists as a resource to help negate concerns of food security for seniors with limited incomes as they care for themselves and balance expenses. The program is also a resource for families with children under the age of 18, providing nutrition that is essential for childhood development. A greater percentage of rural households among both of these demographic groups participate in SNAP than do nationally.

As policymakers deliberate the funding and future of SNAP in the 2018 farm bill and broader entitlement reforms, SNAP must be recognized as an investment in rural communities. SNAP is, and needs to be, maintained as a critical safeguard against food insecurity and poverty for rural residents.

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