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Most Families That Received SNAP Benefits in 2018 Had At Least One Person Working

By US Census Bureau

Jul 22, 2020

The majority of families that received benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2018 included at least one employed individual, according to the American Community Survey (ACS).

In 2018, 12% of the 79 million families in the United States received SNAP benefits at some point in the previous 12 months.

More than three-quarters of those families had at least one person working and about one-third included two or more workers, a clear indication that many families that rely on nutritional assistance worked.

SNAP, a federal program that helps millions of low-income families put food on their table, provides benefits to supplement a family’s food budget and purchase healthy food.

SNAP benefits are given monthly on an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card and can be used to purchase food at grocery and convenience stores and at some farmers markets.

In addition to information about receipt of SNAP benefits in 2018, the ACS asks about the characteristics of households and families, including employment of family members.

A U.S. Census Bureau brief released this week provides details on households that receive SNAP benefits.


Work Patterns Vary by Family Type

Of the 3.4 million married-couple families receiving SNAP benefits, 84% had at least one worker. Nearly half (49%) had two or more workers. These data show that SNAP provides nutritional support for many U.S. working families.

Millions of workers use SNAP to supplement low wages and meet their families’ basic nutritional needs. For more information on the characteristics of SNAP recipients and SNAP receipt by state, see Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Receipt for Households: 2018.


About the Data

A family consists of a householder (the person who owns or rents the home) and others living in the same household related to the householder by birth, marriage or adoption.

Not all households contain families, however. Some households consist of a group of unrelated people or one person living alone; these are nonfamily households, and are not included in this analysis.

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