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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Eligibility and Access

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal program to reduce domestic hunger, reaching nearly 44 million people in an average month during fiscal year 2020. A recent report estimates, however, that 18 percent of those eligible for benefits nationwide did not participate in the program in 2018.

This visualization represents the joint efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, the USDA’s Economic Research Service, and our state partners to increase understanding of current SNAP program access and inform future SNAP program outreach. The visualization uses American Community Survey data linked to state administrative records to model estimates of SNAP eligibility and access rates at the state and county levels. Using linked data allows us to estimate eligibility and access for a wide range of characteristics. See Newman and Scherpf (2013) for more information on how we estimate SNAP eligibility, and Wagner and Layne (2014) for more information on the methodology used to link data sources.

By default, the interactive maps and graphics show modeled SNAP eligibility and access rates for all individuals. Rates often differ over time, between states, and by individual and household characteristics. To explore these differences, use the menus above the maps to select among various states, year ranges, population characteristics, and population subgroups. The graphics in the bottom portion of the visualization show the distributions of characteristics of eligible SNAP participants and nonparticipants at the state and county levels. 

Constance Newman and Erik Scherpf, “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Access at the State and County Levels: Evidence from Texas SNAP Administrative Records and the American Community Survey,” ERR-156, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2013.  

Deborah Wagner and Mary Layne, “The Person Identification Validation System (PVS): Applying the Center for Administrative Records Research and Applications’ (CARRA) Record Linkage Software,” U.S. Census Bureau, CARRA Working Paper Series: WP #2014-01, <>, 2014.


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