The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient numbers are fairly clear—there are across the board increases, both nationwide and in Connecticut. The number of households receiving SNAP assistance in the state has more than doubled from 2005 to 2010, and the trend line shows no signs of slowing down.
The increase for Child recipients has been more modest, climbing 18% from 110,374 to 131,130. The largest increases have been in mostly rural counties, specially in Tolland (74%) and Litchfield (51%) Counties. Of the urban areas, Fairfield County (26%) saw the largest increase.
It would be easy to blame the increase on the great recession, slow economic growth and unemployment. A big part of this big jump on caseload, however, isn’t from more people falling into poverty, but from expanded eligibility within the program. In 2009, the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA – the stimulus bill) gave states the opportunity raise the income limit for SNAP benefits from 135% of the Federal Poverty Line to 185%. This increased the number of SNAP eligible individuals in Connecticut by more than 200,000, opening the doors to the program to more families in need.
Although the Department of Social Services has struggled to cope with the additional demand, the SNAP program has actually worked as intended, serving as a critical piece of the nation’s safety net and proving a crucial income support on trying times.
Edit: the Kids Count CT event has been postponed. We will announce the new date in the coming days.