SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the nation’s largest public food assistance program. Its primary purpose is to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households in order to improve their nutrition and alleviate hunger. The program has a strong counter-cyclical economic impact, as more people become eligible for support during economic downturns and recessions.

SNAP is paid for by the federal government and administered jointly by the US Department of Agriculture and state human services agencies (Oklahoma Department of Human Services).

To be eligible for SNAP, a household must have gross monthly income (income before any of the program’s deductions are applied) at or below 130 percent of the poverty line and net income (income after deductions are applied) at or below the poverty line. Some states also subject recipients to an assets limit. The great majority of SNAP recipients are low-income families with dependent children, seniors, and persons with disabilities. Adults aged 18-49 without a disability have long been subject to a work requirement that restricts them to a maximum of three months of SNAP benefits, except during times of high unemployment or during federal public health emergencies. Under the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 that ended the national debt-ceiling crisis, the work requirement will phase up from age 49 to age 54 by October 2024.

In Oklahoma, 408,350 families and 855,165 total individuals received SNAP benefits at some point in FY 2022, according to OKDHS. The program paid out a total of $2.2 billion in benefits in FY 2022, a huge increase from the $944 million in benefits issued in FY 2020, due to increased benefit allocations that were part of Covid-relief measures passed by Congress. The average daily benefit per-recipient was $7.07. The USDA announced a new formula for calculating SNAP benefits that increased the maximum SNAP benefit by 21 percent effective October 2021.