Spending Food Assistance Money in a SNAP

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New AAEA Member research published in AEPP

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Over one-third of SNAP households spend those benefits rapidly

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps eligible low-income families financially so they are able to purchase groceries for the month. In “Re-Examining the SNAP Benefit Cycle Allowing for Heterogeneity” published in the Applied Economic Perspective & Policy (AEPP), Jeffrey Dorfman from the University of Georgia, Christian Gregory from USDA, Economic Research Service, and Zhongyuan Liu and Ran Huo from the University of Georgia, examine how quickly SNAP recipients are spending their monthly funding.

“We find that, upon receiving their once-a-month benefits, slightly over one-third of SNAP households spend those benefits rapidly with the remaining households budgeting their SNAP benefits rather evenly throughout the month. Those that do spend their benefits quickly do so very quickly, spending about two-thirds of their monthly benefit within the first four days,” says Dorfman.

He continued “spending your SNAP benefits quickly at the start of the month may lead to higher levels of food insecurity later in the month if money runs short. Thus, designing and implementing an educational program to help these specific households budget their resources better could lead to improved food security with very little, if any, additional cost to taxpayers.”

The article “Re-Examining the SNAP Benefit Cycle Allowing for Heterogeneity” is now available online and is open to the public for a limited time. If you are interested in setting up an interview with Jeffrey Dorfman, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices. To learn more, visit http://www.aaea.org.

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Allison Scheetz
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