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Trends in USDA SNAP Participation Rates: FY 2016-2019

Resource type
Research type
Participation Characteristics
Participation Rates
Program Access
SNAP Benefit Use
Resource Materials
PDF Icon Summary (1,023.16 KB)
PDF Icon Final Report (1.53 MB)
PDF Icon Addendum (223.78 KB)

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. This report presents rates for fiscal year (FY) 2019, comparing them to rates for FY 2016-19 and showing participation rates by household characteristics.

Key findings in this report include the following:
  • Overall, the program served 82 percent of all eligible individuals in FY 2019, the same as in FY 2018 and FY 2017 but down 1 percentage point from 2016.
  • Elderly individuals (age 60 or older) typically participate in SNAP at lower-than-average rates, which remained true in FY 2019.
  • Participation rates for all individuals and for most subgroups showed little change between FY 2016 and FY 2019.
    • For instance, the participation rate for elderly individuals increased by 4 percentage points from 44 percent in FY 2016 to 48 percent in FY 2018, where it remained in FY 2019.
  • There were statistically significant decreases in participation rates for two related subgroups - noncitizens and citizen children living with noncitizen adults - between FY 2016 and FY 2019.
Page updated: November 16, 2023