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‘SNAP’ gap for meals narrows as benefits expand

The Biden administration boosted SNAP benefits by $36 per person per month in October in a move expected to help millions of Americans avoid hunger. “This increase helped close the gap between SNAP benefits and meal costs, but it did not close it for everyone,” says the Urban Institute.

Following the increase, SNAP benefits still did not cover the average cost of a modestly priced meal in 21% of the counties in the United States, said the nonprofit research organization. But before the increase in SNAP benefits, 96% of counties were in the “SNAP gap.” There are 3,143 counties in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

“Gaps persist in rural and urban counties, across the (rural-urban) spectrum,” said the Urban Institute. It calculated the national average price of a modest meal as $2.41. “Leelanau County, Michigan, has the largest percentage gap and is on the most rural end of the (rural-urban) spectrum.” Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in Leelanau County, north of Traverse City in northern Michigan. More than 22,000 people live in the county.

The Urban Institute report on the “SNAP gap” is available here.

An interactive map showing benefit adequacy by county is available here.

For a FERN story about the increase in SNAP benefits, click here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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