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States where food stamps are used the most

  • States where food stamps are used the most

    Last summer, the Trump administration proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that can restrict food stamp benefits for about 3 million U.S. residents, and nearly 10% of the people to be affected will be children. More children may lose access to free or reduced school lunches, and states may also lose their flexibility to administer food stamps.

    The federal government argues that they are aiming to close loopholes in food stamp distribution, potentially saving $2.5 billion. Resources like food banks remain vital in battling food insecurity, and data shows food stamps create 12 meals for one meal a food bank can provide.

    More than a dozen states have joined in a lawsuit to prevent the rule from being enacted in April, claiming the rule "undermines the nutrition program's intent and the U.S. Department of Agriculture violated the rulemaking process." SNAP began as a temporary relief program but became permanent in 1964. In 2017, the federal government spent $70 billion on SNAP. Nationwide, 15.2% of households receive food stamps, with an average cost per household of $237.86.

    As many Americans wait to see if the new food stamp laws will come to fruition, millions continue to go hungry throughout the nation. Stacker compiled a list of the states where food stamps are used the most using SNAP data from the USDA. The data was released on Jan. 17, 2020. The number of households and the poverty rate are current as of 2018 data from the Census Bureau. States are ranked by the percent of households that received food stamps in September 2019. The District of Columbia was included in the analysis, but North Carolina was not included since data was not provided. Additional information came from sources like the Center for American Progress, Feeding America, and state websites and local food banks.

    Click through to find out where your state ranks in terms of food stamp usage, and what is being done to curb hunger and food insecurity in your area.

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  • #50. Wyoming

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 4.9%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 11,194
    - Average benefit per household: $248.78 (#16 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 11.1% (#34 highest among all states)

    Wyoming's department of family services works with the University of Wyoming's extension office to offer a Cent$ible Nutrition Program. Food Bank of the Rockies and mobile pantries also help families in need. Recently, Wyoming instituted work requirements for food stamp recipients.

  • #49. Utah

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 7.1%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 70,918
    - Average benefit per household: $266.55 (#5 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 9% (#47 highest among all states)

    Utah Food Bank distributes about 38 million meals a year. Utah has a relatively low poverty rate, but the state has problems in the distribution of wealth. Earlier this year, a government shutdown threatened Utah's food stamp funding.

  • #48. North Dakota

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 7.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 23,192
    - Average benefit per household: $242.73 (#20 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 10.7% (#39 highest among all states)

    An abundance of farmers markets in North Dakota accept food stamp benefits, bridging the gap for those in need who seek nutritious diets. There's a debate in the state on whether sugary goods should be banned under benefits. Recently, North Dakota became a government target for possible cases of residents abusing aid.

  • #47. New Hampshire

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 7.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 38,747
    - Average benefit per household: $191.93 (#50 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 7.6% (#50 highest among all states)

    Although food insecurity in New Hampshire is less than the national average (about 9.6% to 13%), the state is reporting higher levels than a decade ago. To help combat this trend, New Hampshire uses a Double Up Food Bucks program that provides an additional 50% off certain fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • #46. Kansas

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 8.2%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 93,217
    - Average benefit per household: $233.66 (#28 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 12% (#30 highest among all states)

    Some Kansans are pushing to create a break on the state's high food sales tax for low-income residents. The state 6.5% sales tax on food can be coupled with local sales taxes in some areas to create an over 10% tax for groceries.

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  • #45. Nebraska

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 9.3%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 71,121
    - Average benefit per household: $247.17 (#17 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 11% (#35 highest among all states)

    Almost one in nine Nebraska residents (including one in six children) struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America. Nebraska is trying to institute a Double Up Food Bucks program similar to New Hampshire's.

  • #44. Minnesota

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 9.4%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 205,610
    - Average benefit per household: $203.23 (#48 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 9.6% (#44 highest among all states)

    Recent numbers show that about 376,000 Minnesotans receive food stamps. With the possibility of federal cuts to food stamp programs, Minnesota joined a lawsuit with several other states to prevent the legislation. Almost 39% of families receiving food stamp assistance have children.

  • #43. Indiana

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 10%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 259,037
    - Average benefit per household: $259.48 (#9 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 13.1% (#20 highest among all states)

    Indiana has a robust food bank system, but one in eight residents still struggles with hunger. Just this year, ex-drug offenders finally became eligible for food stamps in Indiana.

  • #42. Idaho

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 10.1%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 64,868
    - Average benefit per household: $239.40 (#23 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 11.8% (#31 highest among all states)

    Idaho has almost 222,000 food-insecure residents. Although the state's Map the Meal Gap initiative has helped provide information that contributed to that number improving almost 1% (about 11,000 residents) from a year ago, according to an annual study.

  • #41. Colorado

    - Percent of households receiving food stamps: 10.2%
    - Total households receiving food stamps: 222,430
    - Average benefit per household: $231.98 (#29 highest among all states)
    - Poverty rate: 9.6% (#44 highest among all states)

    Feeding America says that almost 600,000 Colorado residents "are struggling with hunger." The Colorado Independent reports that 895 residents won't be eligible for work-requirement waivers that grant access to food stamp benefits. Some data suggests that only 60% of low-income residents participate in food assistance programs, indicating a stronger need for food insecurity advocacy.

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