Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): A Primer on Eligibility and Benefits

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called the Food Stamp Program, is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritionally adequate low-cost diet. This report describes the rules related to eligibility for SNAP benefits as well as the rules for benefits and their redemption.

SNAP is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS). SNAP is authorized by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. This law, formerly the Food Stamp Act of 1977, has since 1973 been reauthorized by the “farm bill,” omnibus legislation that also typically includes the authorization of other federal agricultural policies and programs. The program was most recently reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill (P.L. 113-79, enacted February 7, 2014). Many farm bill provisions expire in 2018, and the 115th Congress may undertake the next reauthorization of SNAP.