This is a list of the most important food stamp (SNAP) statistics. It contains a breakdown of the latest US government data and our research from January 2024.
The Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program is one of the largest welfare programs in the US with millions of people on it, and billions in spending every year.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some key SNAP stats, along with our year-in-review analysis of search behavior around food stamps for 2023.
We’ll also do a breakdown and expansion of USDA’s latest financial report for SNAP that covers statewide spending.
Top SNAP Statistics (Editor’s Picks):
Here is a shorter section with some key food stamps statistics and facts. Each section has an expanded version of it lower down in the article.
Nationwide Food Stamp Stats
- 42.2 million people are on food stamps in 2024. This represents 12% of the US population.
- The cost of the food stamps program for 2023 was $112,9 billion. This was down from $119,6 billion spent in 2022.
- The 2024 budget for SNAP is $122.1 billion, an increase of 8% from 2023.
- The average person on food stamps received $211.93 every month in 2023.
Online Search Trends for SNAP
We reviewed online search terms for food stamps in the US for 2023 and compared its development to 2022.
- Louisiana was the state that searched the most for information on food stamps online in 2023. Over 800% more than the least searched state of New Hampshire.
- North Dakota saw a sharp increase in searches for food stamps, coming in over 42% higher in 2023, compared to 2022. The highest of any state.
- Tennessee and Minnesota also saw a big increase in searches for SNAP last year. 26% increase for Tennessee and 20% increase for Minnesota compared to 2022.
- The biggest drop in searches came from Delaware, which had a reduction in searches for food stamps by 26% in 2023 compared to 2022. Connecticut and West Virginia followed suit with both having a 19% reduction year-on-year.
- Overall there was a 6% decline in searches for food stamps topics across the whole of the US in 2023, compared to 2022.
State-Based SNAP Data
We’ve taken the latest population forecasts of each state and merged them with USDA’s latest financial report for SNAP which covers October 2023, released January 2024.
- California spent $1.01 billion on food stamps in October 2023, making it the highest-spending state in the US.
- In New Mexico, 21% of the population is on food stamps. This is the highest of any US state and nearly triple the US nationwide average.
- Wyoming had the lowest food stamp expenditure in October 2023, at $5.4 million.
- Utah has the lowest state SNAP enrollment rate, at just 4.73% of its population.
Mapping Hunger: Year-in-Review for Food Stamp Searches Online
We analyzed searches for food stamps in the US and on a statewide basis for 2023 and contrasted how things evolved against 2022.
The States Searching the Most for Food Stamps in 2023
Louisiana was the state in 2023 where people searched the most for food stamp-oriented topics on Google, the same as it was in 2022.
Out of the states that made the top 10 in 2023, 8 out of 10 of them are among the Southern States. The only other two states were the Midwest states of Missouri and Indiana.
The top 10 states in 2023 largely remained similar to 2022, with the changes being Missouri and Arkansas entering, and Connecticut and West Virginia dropping out and into spots 11 and 15 respectively.
The state that had the least amount of searches was New Hampshire. Compared against Louisiana there was an 800% difference in searches, showing a tremendous difference in search interest for the SNAP program.
This can also be seen in light of Louisiana having 18.84% of its population on food stamps, the third highest percentage in the country, compared to only 5.56% in New Hampshire, the third lowest.
The 10 States with the Highest Year-on-Year Increase
Changes to policy or eligibility, and negative economic shifts in the individual states can all be causes of increasing search demand for SNAP from one year to another.
These were the top 10 states that had the biggest percentage increase of searches in 2023, compared to 2022 – showing from an online perspective an increased demand for food assistance.
North Dakota in particular stands out here with a concerning 42% year-on-year growth.
Top 10 States With Declining SNAP Search Volume
While an increased search for SNAP online can be an indication of an economic downturn in a state, a declining search volume for government food assistance can also be interpreted as a sign of less demand for these services.
These were the top 10 states with the biggest percentage decline in SNAP search last year, compared to 2022.
Full State Search Breakdown
A spokesperson from ILGive.com commented on the study:
“In today’s world where a Google search is often the first step in figuring out what benefits the government can provide in time of need, analyzing the search volume for SNAP topics online gives an interesting snapshot in the supply and demand that can exist for it in each state.
This digital search trail is also valuable data in uncovering areas where information about welfare programs might be lacking.”
Here is the full list of the 50 states broken down by searches in 2023, alongside their 2022 position changes and percentage increase/decrease in.
Filter by high to low values by clicking the header menu.
We extracted the search volume for SNAP-oriented topics using Google Trends data for the full year of 2022 and 2023.
We then compared the relative search volume per state against each other for comparative analysis where we matched the yearly data of 2022 and 2023 against each other.
SNAP Data: Food Stamp Costs & Key Figures
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages the SNAP benefits program and releases monthly numbers on its cost across the states.
We’ve taken the most recent numbers released in January 2024, which provides a state-based cost overview for October 2023.
To add an additional layer to this data we’ve also compiled it together with population data.
This gives us the ability to look at spending and SNAP numbers on a percentage and per capita basis for each state.
How Many People Are on Food Stamps?
In 2023, there were 42,147,947 million people on food stamps in the US.
This was up from 41,208,251 million people in 2022.
Any person receiving SNAP is counted, including children in households that get food stamps.
In 2024 it’s forecasted that there will continue to be 42.2 million Americans on SNAP.
Once you’re approved for SNAP you’ll also be rolled into the EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) system, where you get a debit card to make SNAP-approved purchases.
People on Food Stamps by State
This data is based on the USDA numbers from January 2024, covering October 2023. We’ve merged this with the most recent population data to create the per capita and percentage overview.
- California is the state with the most people on food stamps. It had 5,307,404 enrolled in the program in October 2023.
- New Mexico had 21% of its population on food stamps in the most recent data from October 2023. Meaning over 1 in 5 is enrolled in SNAP.
- Wyoming is the state with the least amount of people on food stamps with only 28,800 enrolled. Percentage-wise, the lowest state is Utah with 4.73% of the population enrolled.
Here you can see a breakdown of all states.
You can sort it by total number of people enrolled in SNAP or by percentage by clicking the header column.
How Many Families & Households Are on Food Stamps?
There were 22,292,478 households on food stamps in October 2023. Up from 21,620,718 in the same period in 2022.
The household numbers will also encapsulate how many families are on SNAP. Households are defined as a group of people who live together and usually purchase and prepare food together.
California has the most households enrolled in SNAP with 3,043,657 followed by Florida (1,687,945) and New York (1,647,898).
Average Monthly Benefit Per Household on Food Stamps
The average household on food stamps received $400.69 in 2023. This was down from $439.29 in 2022.
- Hawaii had a household benefit cost of $1400.61 in October 2023. Heightened by additional payouts connected to the forest fires. Alaska ($740.57) and Tennessee ($452.27) followed.
- Massachusetts had the lowest payout per household with $298.73. Almost five times lower than Hawaii.
This is the household data for each state. Filter by states with the highest to lowest amount of households, and equivalent high to low benefits payout per household.
SNAP Cost & Budget: How Much is Spent on Food Stamps Per Year?
The cost of the food stamps program for 2023 was $112,9 billion.
$107,2 of these went into direct benefits, while $5,7 billion was spent on all other costs which include things like administration, employment, and nutrition education.
The cost was down from $119,6 billion spent in 2022. Largely related to discontinuing the increased benefits given during COVID-19.
The budgeted cost for SNAP and food stamps in 2024 is set to $122.1 billion.
How much do food stamp recipients get each month?
The average person on food stamps received $211.93 in 2023. That is down $230.48 which was the average in 2022.
SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits & Costs By State
- California is the state spending the most on food stamps with $ 1 billion in spend in October 2023 alone. New York ($644 million) and Florida ($586 million) followed.
- Hawaii has the highest spending per person enrolled in SNAP with a monthly cost of $568.19. Alaska ($377.11) and Tennessee ($288.53) follow.
- New Mexico’s SNAP costs average $41.58 per person, the highest of any state when spread across the entire population, including those not enrolled in SNAP.
See the full state-based data based on October 2023 numbers below. Filter from high to low based on total benefits cost, cost per person, and cost per capita.
Demographics of Food Stamps Recipients
The most recent data available for the demographics of people receiving food stamps comes from the United States Census Bureau’s survey of participants of welfare programs that came out in 2021.
Here is a summary of the main data points:
- The race receiving the most food stamps is white with 60.9%.
- The biggest age group supported through SNAP is between 5-17, representing 28.3% of the beneficiaries.
- 52% of people receiving food stamps do not have a high school diploma.
Thrifty Food Plan Statistics & Facts
The maximum benefit amount possible to get from SNAP is determined by what is called the Thrifty Food Plan.
This is developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and is the estimated cost needed to buy a healthy, budget-friendly diet for a family of four.
The reference family is defined as one man and a woman between 20 – 50 years old and two children, 6-8 and 9-11 years.
The estimated cost is regulated every month in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
This was the cost for the last reporting month, December 2023.
Alaska & Hawaii Thrifty Food Plan Cost
Alaska & Hawaii have additional benefits added to their Thrifty Food Plan due to their remote location and high food costs.
This was the last USDA’s prices released in January 2024, covering December 2023.
Who Can Receive SNAP?
To apply for SNAP and receive funds through EBT, the following core eligibility criteria need to be met:
- Gross Monthly Income: Your household’s gross income, before any deductions, must be at or below 130% of the poverty line. The specific amount varies based on family size. For a family of three, it’s currently $2,694 a month or about $32,328 a year.
- Net Income: Your household’s net income, after deductions, must be at or below the poverty line.
- Asset Limits:
- For households without a member aged 60 or older, or who has a disability, assets must be $2,750 or less.
- For households with such a member, assets must be $4,250 or less.
- Income Types: SNAP considers both earned income (before payroll taxes) and unearned income (like Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support).
- Asset Types: Generally, liquid assets like amounts in bank accounts are counted. Non-liquid assets like the household’s home, personal property, and retirement savings typically do not count. Most automobiles are also excluded.
- Ineligibility: Certain individuals are ineligible regardless of income or assets, including:
- Individuals on strike.
- People without documented immigration status.
- Some college students attending more than half-time.
- Certain lawful immigrants.
- Certain individuals with drug-related felony convictions (varies by state).
- Many adults aged 18 to 52 without children or disabilities may be limited to three months of benefits every three years unless they are working or in a work or training program at least 20 hours a week.
States have the option to relax the asset limits, and most have done so. Also, specific details can vary by state.
What Can Be Bought With Food Stamps
The foods that can be bought with food stamps are:
- Meat, poultry, and fish
- Fruits and vegetables
- Dairy products
- Cereals and breads
- Snack foods
- Non-alcoholic beverages
- Seeds and plants that will produce food for the household to consume
Foods That Can Not be Bought With Food Stamps
- Alcohol of any kind
- Tobacco Beer
- Supplements like vitamins or medicines
- Animals that are alive
- Foods that are hot at the point of purchase
- Range of non-consumable items like:
- Food for your pet
- Household supplies like cleaning or paper products
- Hygiene items
Where Can People Use Food Stamps
Your SNAP benefits can be used at any authorized retail food store throughout the US. So you can take your EBT card with you if you’re going out of state for example.
- Supermarkets and Grocery Stores: These are the most common places where SNAP benefits are accepted. They include major national and regional chains such as Walmart, Kroger, Safeway, Publix, Albertsons, and Wegmans.
- Discount Stores and Warehouse Clubs: Some larger discount stores and warehouse clubs like Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club also accept SNAP benefits for eligible food items.
- Convenience Stores: Many convenience stores and smaller food markets accept SNAP for eligible purchases.
- Farmers’ Markets and Direct Marketing Farmers: A growing number of farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers are equipped to accept SNAP benefits. This allows recipients to buy fresh and locally grown produce.
- Specialty Stores: Certain specialty food stores, including bakeries, butchers, and seafood markets, may accept SNAP benefits for qualifying items.
- Online Retailers: Recently, some online retailers have started accepting SNAP benefits. For example, Amazon and Walmart offer this option in certain areas.
Use Food Stamps (EBT) Online
Almost all states and territories included in the SNAP program now allow for its use online. This includes all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The only two US territories currently not catering to online purchases are Guam and Virgin Islands.
Restaurant Meal Program (RMP)
Certain states allow restaurant orders through the Restaurant Meal Program (RMP).
The states that have this program as of January 2024 are:
- New York
- Rhode Island
In addition to being eligible to use SNAP for RMP, recipients also have to purchase the food at a restaurant explicitly participating in the program.
In addition, all the members of the household must either be:
- 60 years or older
- be a spouse of someone eligible for SNAP and RMP
About the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal assistance program in the United States that provides eligible low-income individuals and families with funds to purchase food. Formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, SNAP helps ensure that people with limited financial resources have access to a basic, nutritious diet.
We’ve aimed here to present the most up-to-date statistics on the program, and will repeatedly update it as new data comes out.
Sources – How This Article Was Put Together
The statistics here are generated from the most recent public data we could find, and our research using Google Trends for search volume data on SNAP.
Vital to this piece was also data from USDA which manages the SNAP program, United States Census Bureau, in particular their Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities alongside data.gov.
Reach out to us through our Contact Us section for further feedback or comments on this article.