Complementary food programs = gains in food security

Forty million Americans, including 6.5 million children, are food insecure, meaning they don’t have enough food for active, healthy lives. Many rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) –the largest food assistance program for low-income families –to help make ends meet.Still, 51.2% of households receiving SNAP benefits, commonly known as food stamps, were food insecure in 2016. Iowa researchers developed new economic methods to more accurately measure the true effects of participation in both SNAP and the third largest food assistance program —Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).They found the two USDA food assistance programs are complementary, not redundant. More importantly, their analysis showed that participating in both SNAP and WIC increases households’ food security from 2% to24%.The findings can help policymakers design more efficient programs to meet food needs, knowing that low-income families often participate in more than one food assistance program—and demonstrating that the combination of SNAP and WIC helps improve food security for participating households.