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Trends in USDA SNAP Participation Rates: Fiscal Years 2016 to 2020

Resource type
Research type
Food Security
Participation Characteristics
Participation Rates
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Summary (375.99 KB)
PDF Icon Final Report (1.90 MB)

This report is the latest in a series on SNAP participation rates, which estimate the proportion of people eligible for benefits under federal income and asset rules to those who actually participate in the program. Because the coronavirus COVID-19 public health emergency affected data collection starting in March 2020, this summary covers only the pre-pandemic period of October 2019 through February 2020. Thus, this report presents rates for the early months of fiscal year (FY) 2020, comparing them to rates for FY 2016-2018 and showing participation rates by household characteristics.

Key Findings
  • SNAP served 78 percent of all eligible individuals in pre-pandemic FY 2020, which is the lowest participation rate of recent years.
  • Individuals in households with incomes below poverty and children had higher-than-average participation rates in pre-pandemic FY 2020.
  • Elderly individuals continued to have lower-than-average participation rates.
Page updated: December 07, 2022