Much research demonstrates the efficacy of these programs in improving food security, child development, health and well-being. The federal nutrition programs that are entitlements without participation quotas are well targeted in particular to helping people in need and can expand when need grows. That structure allows states, counties, cities and school districts, service providers, advocacy groups, and other nonprofit entities to develop policies, program strategies, best practices, partnerships and outreach mechanisms that add eligible low-income people to coverage and that assure benefits more fully meet need. The programs can also respond robustly and quickly to local as well as national economic downturns.
SNAP is the nation’s most substantial direct defense against hunger,
and, while fundamentally strong, must be improved.
SNAP can do the most to eliminate hunger by delivering benefits directly to struggling families and letting them use the same commercial food outlets as other Americans. The program requires updated and improved monthly allotments, adequate to stave off hunger throughout the month and to purchase a healthy diet. The current allotment typically carries even the most careful of families only three-quarters or four-fifths of the way through the month. The adverse health consequences are underlined by the fact that a 2013 Institute of Medicine study found that the benefit level is not adequate for most families. Studies of improved benefits have shown marked improvements in food security and health outcomes.
Policy Approaches to Reducing Food Insecurity