By Martha Sherman, Advocacy Intern
By now, you’ve likely heard a lot about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and know that for every meal a Feeding America food bank provides, SNAP provides 12 meals. SNAP keeps millions of Americans out of poverty every year, but it has even longer-lasting effects on beneficiaries’ health. When people are food insecure, they may worry about where their next meal is coming from or may have to choose between food and other necessities, like medicine or a doctor’s visit. In 2014, Philabundance found that 69% of households we served had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care at least once during the year, and 41% had to make this terrible choice every month. Inconsistent meals, lack of a balanced diet, and the stress of food insecurity can all have serious effects on people’s health.
According to recent studies…
1. People who participate in SNAP have better overall dietary quality and children have higher vitamin intake and lower rates of anemia.
2. According to an estimate using national data, SNAP reduces the rate of childhood obesity by 5.3%.
3. People on SNAP save $1,409 a year in healthcare costs compared to eligible people who do not receive SNAP.
4. Access to SNAP decreases the likelihood of being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
5. SNAP benefits help American workers meet nutritional needs, meaning they are more likely to be productive and will take fewer sick days.
6. When comparing adults who received SNAP as children to those who were eligible but did not, they were 6% less likely to have stunted growth, 5% less likely to have heart disease, and 16% less likely to be obese.
7. People on SNAP who have diabetes are 27% more likely to get hypoglycemia in the last week of the month than people who are food secure. Almost all people on SNAP run out of benefits before the end of the month, making it harder for people with chronic conditions to eat well.
8. Access to SNAP for pregnant people improves birth weight and other birth outcomes.
9. Seniors who receive SNAP benefits are 14% less likely to be admitted to a hospital and 23% less likely to be admitted to a nursing home than similar seniors who do not receive SNAP. They also save approximately $2,120 per year in medical costs!
10. Seniors that participate in SNAP are less likely to be depressed than food-insecure seniors who do not participate.