Food Security and Nutrition Assistance

ERS monitors the food security of U.S. households through an annual, nationally representative survey. While most U.S. households are food secure, a minority of U.S. households experience food insecurity at times during the year, meaning that their access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by lack of money and other resources. Some experience very low food security, a more severe range of food insecurity where food intake of one or more members is reduced and normal eating patterns are disrupted. Reliable monitoring of food security contributes to the effective operation of USDA’s food and nutrition assistance programs aimed at reducing food insecurity.

Children accounted for 43 percent of SNAP participants in 2019

In fiscal year 2019, children accounted for 43 percent of all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants, down about 1 percent from 2018. Children younger than 5 made up 13 percent of participants, while school-age children made up 30 percent. Adults ages 18-59 represented 42 percent of SNAP participants in fiscal year 2019, unchanged from fiscal year 2018. The share of the SNAP caseload age 60 and older grew from 14 percent in fiscal year 2018 to 16 percent in fiscal year 2019.

Participation in SNAP varies across States, reflecting differences in need and program policies

In fiscal year 2022, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) served an average of 41.1 million people per month, or 12.3 percent of U.S. residents. The share of residents receiving SNAP benefits in each State ranged from as high as 24.5 percent in New Mexico to as low as 4.6 percent in Utah. In 35 States, the share was somewhere between 8 and 16 percent.

Last updated: Wednesday, November 29, 2023

For more information, contact: Anikka Martin