CHARTBOOK: SNAP and Hunger in North Carolina

By Brian Kennedy
Budget & Tax Center
July 2015

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program and plays a critical role in ensuring that North Carolina households can bring food to their tables.

This CHARTBOOK provides an overview of the SNAP program in North Carolina including characteristics of recipients and its ability to reduce poverty. For basics on the program, see the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities’ “Policy Basics:  Introduction to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”

Part I: NC is Among the Hungriest Places in the US
Part II: SNAP Participation is Tied to the Health of the Economy
Part III SNAP Targets Vulnerable North Carolinians

Part IV: SNAP Benefits are Based on Need
Part V: SNAP is a Critical Poverty Alleviation Tool
Part VI: SNAP is Effective at Reducing Food Insecurity
Part VII: SNAP is a Public-Private Partnership

Part I: NC is Among the Hungriest Places in the US

NC has the 5th highest level of food insecurity, meaning that families lack the resources they need to get enough nutritious food for an active, healthy life.

Part II: SNAP Participation is Tied to the Health of the Economy

SNAP participation is directly related to the economy. As the economy does worse, SNAP participation increases; as it does better, participation decreases. This is because SNAP is such an important resource for families who experience economic hardship or job loss as a result of economic recession.

Part III: SNAP Targets Vulnerable North Carolinians

Nearly three-quarters of people who receive SNAP benefits are either children or adults who live with children. The program is available to moderate income North Carolinians but many of the recipients are the most needy. Nearly half of SNAP households live in deep poverty, meaning their incomes are below 50% of poverty ($12,125 a year for a family of 4).

Part IV: SNAP Benefits are Based on Need

North Carolinians who qualify for SNAP must have income levels at or below 130% of the poverty line. For a household with one adult and one child, this means a monthly income of $1,705 or less.

SNAP distributes benefits based on need. Very poor households receive higher amounts of benefits than do families with more income.  A typical North Carolina household receives $265 in SNAP benefits per month. For an average family, this is only enough to cover 43% monthly food costs.

Part V: SNAP is a Critical Poverty Alleviation Tool

SNAP is proven to reduce poverty. In 2013, SNAP benefits lifted more than 70,000 North Carolina households out of poverty—and another 83,000 households out of deep poverty.

Between 2010 and 2013, the share of SNAP households in North Carolina with incomes below the poverty line dropped by 9%.

Part VI: SNAP is Effective at Reducing Food Insecurity

SNAP is effective at reducing food insecurities that families face. The amount of national households that faced food insecurities decreased by more than ten percent after receiving SNAP benefits for just six months.

In North Carolina, where one in four children face food insecurity, SNAP is critical is fighting childhood poverty.

Part VII: SNAP is a Public-Private Partnership

SNAP benefits pump billions of dollars into North Carolina's economy.

The number of stores accepting SNAP more than doubled between 2008 and 2015. Every county in NC has SNAP participating businesses.

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