Let's get right to the point. Every $5 in new SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) benefits generates $9 in total economic activity (USDA). When measured by each dollar's impact, SNAP is one of the best forms of stimulus for local economies and because the majority of SNAP benefits are spent the month they are issued, SNAP acts as an immediate boost. Increasing SNAP participation among eligible families should be a top priority for states looking to increase local economic growth.
In fiscal year 2008, the average monthly SNAP benefit per household was approximately $227. These SNAP dollars help stimulate local economies because they are spent at local grocery stores, convenience stores, and farmers markets. Moreover, studies have shown that a $1 increase in the value of SNAP benefits of a typical SNAP recipient leads to additional food expenditures of between $0.17 and $0.47. These numbers show that SNAP recipients spend more dollars on food at local retailers than eligible non-participants. Money spent at local food retailers and farmers markets helps maintain and create jobs across sectors including the agricultural sector. On average, $1 billion of retail food demand by SNAP recipients generates 3,000 farm jobs (USDA).
The positive benefits to local economies from increasing SNAP benefits is evident. Still, what should not be lost among all these figures is the fact that SNAP helps families through tough economic times. Children, who represent 50% of SNAP participants, do not have to go to bed hungry. Parents can use SNAP benefits on the road back to self-sufficiency since half of all new SNAP participants will leave the program within nine months (USDA).
Check out how increasing SNAP participation can help your specific state by viewing the SNAP Economic Benefits interactive map.