More than 1.1 million fewer Americans are recipients of food stamps since President Trump took over the Oval Office in January 2017.
According to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) fell to 41,496,255 in May from 42,691,363 in January, the month Trump took office. During the first four months of 2017, participation in SNAP has declined by 2.8%.
This also represents the lowest level of SNAP participation since 2010. That doesn’t necessarily mean people do not need to rely on food stamps because they have secured decent jobs.
In his 2018 budget proposal, President Trump proposed cuts to the food stamp program, suggesting states match up to 20% of federal money allocated to SNAP. This is to help make up for the 25%+ funding cut (more than $190.0 billion over the next decade) to the farm bill; SNAP is the main driver of farm bill spending.
Trump’s promised crackdown on illegal immigration is also behind the drop in SNAP participation. It is believed that many immigrants, both illegal and legal, have cancelled their food stamps over fears they may be denied citizenship or even deported.
Moreover, federal lawmakers are working on legislation that would expand SNAP participation requirements and put time limits on how long those enrolled in SNAP can receive food stamps.
We know this will mean fewer people will participate in SNAP because it is already working in states that instituted work requirements for able-bodied adults who receive food stamps.
SNAP participation dropped considerably in Alabama (-4.3%) and Georgia (-4.8%), two states that implemented work requirements for food stamp recipients in 2016–2017.
Still, it’s difficult to champion the U.S. economy and strong economic growth with the number of SNAP recipients hovering near 41.5 million.
In 2009, the year the recession ended, SNAP participation totalled 33.5 million. In 2016, the number stood at 45.3 million. Even at 41.5 million, 23.8% more Americans rely on food stamps nine years into the economic recovery than they did immediately before the recession.
While many think SNAP participation levels will continue to fall, this is open for debate.
Approximately half of Americans would need to borrow money to cover a $400.00 expense, retirement savings have been depleted, and household debt levels have passed 2008 highs.
“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” Food and Nutrition Service, August 4, 2017.
“Trump’s budget takes aim at SNAP, crop insurance,” Politico LLC, May 23, 2017.
“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Number of Persons Participating,” Food and Nutrition Service, August 4, 2017.
“Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation and Costs,” Food and Nutrition Service, August 4, 2017.