SNAP participation higher in rural areas

On average, 16% of rural and small town households participated in food stamp program, compared to 13% of metro area households.

August 11, 2017

2 Min Read
SNAP participation higher in rural areas

Households in counties determined by the U.S. Census Bureau to be rural and small town are more likely to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than their metro area counterparts, according to SNAP Maps, a new interactive data tool released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

Nationally, over the five years studied, an average of 16% of rural and small-town households participated in SNAP, compared to 13% of households in metro areas. On a state-by-state and county-by-county basis, rural and small-town participation in SNAP is typically higher.

“No community in America is immune to hunger, but rural and small-town areas are especially hard hit,” FRAC president Jim Weill said.

Census Bureau data show that 15% of non-metro households and 12% of metro households are food insecure. These new state-by-state and county-by-county analyses show a virtually identical pattern in SNAP participation.

According to FRAC, this new data tool will allow local, state and national policy-makers and program administrators, as well as advocates, media and others, to understand how substantial numbers of struggling families in every county across the country need help from SNAP. It will also serve to dispel too-frequently repeated myths and stereotypes.

“SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and is critical to keeping and lifting low-income households — including massive numbers in rural and small-town areas — out of poverty and hunger,” Weill noted. “SNAP is one of the nation’s very best investments, and it is unacceptable that this proven and effective program is under attack.”

Both President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget and the House Budget Committee’s fiscal 2018 budget resolution propose dramatic cuts to SNAP. The House budget resolution, which is expected to be voted on in September, gives reconciliation instructions to the House Agriculture Committee to make $10 billion in cuts over 10 years to programs in its jurisdiction — a reduction clearly pointed at SNAP. The budget also calls for another $150 billion in SNAP cuts through benefit and eligibility restrictions and structural changes in the latter part of the 10-year budget window.

“These proposed cuts would have devastating consequences for working families, children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, working families and others in rural, small-town and metro communities,” Weill said, pointing to the data in SNAP Maps. “Without question, hunger and poverty in this country would become far worse.”

SNAP Maps is based on five-year American Community Survey data (2011-15). Each county is grouped into one of three census categories: metro, small town or rural. Accompanying the map is an interactive, searchable table that allows users to look at and compare household SNAP participation by state and county.

SNAP Maps demonstrates that SNAP matters in every community across the country, regardless of size or demographics.

To learn more, visit

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