4 Incredible Ways SNAP Helps People

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program provides temporary support to help people and families afford food.  

But SNAP benefits are often under fire. 

After Trump-era efforts to curb SNAP benefits and the recent expiration of COVID-era SNAP increases, some lawmakers are pushing to add more work requirements to qualify for eligibility. 

Under the House’s proposed expansion of work requirements to parents and caregivers, as many as four million children could go hungry.  

“Millions of low-income households, people of color, and their families rely on basic supports to access health care, feed themselves, afford childcare, and survive financial and health insecurity,” according to a UnidosUs blog. “Cuts to these programs, or additional burdensome, punitive requirements [likely monthly paperwork], will do nothing to increase employment. But they will make people sicker, hungrier, and poorer.” 

Let’s dive into the importance of SNAP benefits and how they help millions of families across the United States.  

1. SNAP Helps Latinos Facing Hunger

Latinos and other people of color often lack access to healthy, nutritious food.  

About 21% of Latino households with children sometimes or often did not have enough to eat, compared to 10% of non-Hispanic white households with children, according to February 2023 Census Bureau data. 

SNAP helps one in eight Americans put food on the table. 

Families in the SNAP program – of which one in five are Latinos – can get access to food they need, especially amid a crisis like COVID-19.  

“During the pandemic, SNAP reduced racial disparities in hunger: between December 2020 and December 2021, the number of Latino adults experiencing hunger fell by six percentage points,” according to a UnidosUS Fact Sheet.  

2. SNAP Helps Lift Latinos Out of Poverty

SNAP supplements low-income workers’ pay by providing them with the support to afford food and use their limited resources on other needs.

In 2015, SNAP lifted over three million Latinos out of poverty or deep poverty, UnidosUS reports. 

SNAP benefits also kept 4.2 million people out of poverty since the end of 2021, with the largest poverty reduction for Latino and Black people. 

Adding time limits and work requirements in SNAP threatens to harm Latinos.  

“Given SNAP’s critical role in addressing gaps in nutrition access while strengthening economic security for low-income Americans, it must be protected and strengthened, not further burdened,” according to the UnidosUS fact sheet.  

“Basic supports for families help fulfill that promise for millions of struggling people, who are disproportionately from communities of color like the Latino community we represent.” 

3. SNAP Helps the Economy in Times of Crisis

SNAP can do more than help families, too. 

Increasing investment in SNAP can strengthen the US economy, according to a recent report from The Robert Wood Johnson’s Healthy Eating Research (HER) program. 

A $1 billion increase in SNAP benefits, according to the USDA Economic Research Service, can: 

  • Increase GDP by $1.54 billion 
  • Support 13,560 new jobs 
  • Create $32 million in farm income 

“In a time of economic uncertainty, increasing SNAP benefits is a proven policy approach to stimulate the economy, reduce economic hardship, and improve health,” the HER report states. “Future federal recovery policy approaches should consider SNAP’s proven ability to lift people out of poverty, purchase healthy food, and create and preserve jobs, as well as the evidence supporting an increase in the monthly benefit allotment.” 

4. SNAP Protects the Well-Being of Older Adults

In 2022, 5.2 million older adults were food insecure, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA).  

With SNAP, more than 5 million seniors can put nutritious and satisfying food on their table, further contributing to the support of their overall health.  

SNAP also gives seniors access to fresh produce and other healthy foods they might otherwise not be able to afford. 

“A nutritionally deficient diet puts older adults at risk for developing or exacerbating chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure,” according to the NCOA. 

SNAP can also help with eliminating the financial stress that comes with related to food and nutrition security.  

“Food insecurity has also been linked to poorer overall health, depression, muscle weakness, and decreased bone mass, which may lead to conditions like osteoporosis,” according to the NCOA. 

Help Improve Nutrition and Food Access 

Do you qualify for SNAP?  

Find out if you or your household qualifies and how to apply by visiting the USDA’s website 

You can learn more about the SNAP work requirements here, or read stories about real people who have had their lives changed through SNAP participation. 

You also can find out what food security and nutrition look like in your community using Salud America’s Health Equity Report Card! 

Select your county and see details regarding food and nutrition including: 

  • food access 
  • percentage of population with SNAP Benefits 
  • grocery store rate 

Email your Health Equity Report Card to community leaders, share it on social media, and use it to make a case to address food and nutrition insecurity where help is needed most! 


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