The Federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP (previous Food Stamp Program) helps low-income people buy needed food. SNAP assistance is based on the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, which is an estimate of how much it costs to buy food to prepare low-cost, nutritious meals for a household. SNAP benefits are typically only part of a household’s food budget and recipients need additional resources to buy sufficient food for a month. Self-sufficiency helps those in low-wage jobs, increases productivity and supports nutrition for young children. Most of those eligible are either unemployed, working only part-time or working in low-paying jobs; already receive public assistance; are seniors with limited income or are disabled; or are homeless.
According to the 2011, Access to Healthy Food in Washoe County: A Framework for Food System Design (Washoe County ACHIEVE), although Nevada’s SNAP enrollment has increased, the state remains among the bottom 10 states serving population eligible for the food assistance program, and enrollment among eligible children (54%) is lower than the national average (61%). The Food Bank of Northern Nevada reported in their fall 2010 Food Source newsletter, that every $1 in SNAP benefits creates about $1.84 in economic activity used at local grocery stores. Nevadans already pay these federal taxes, but the money doesn’t come back to the state unless those eligible actually sign-up for benefits.
New York Times interactive map of food stamp usage across the county.