The new US budget the Trump administration plans to unveil later today is expected to propose trimming $193 billion over the next decade from the US Department of Agriculture’s “supplemental nutrition assistance program,” better known as food stamps.
That represents about 25% of the budget for the program, which supports 22.3 million low-income households, representing 45 million people. SNAP, as its known, no longer uses stamps; recipients are provided with electronic debit cards instead, pre-loaded with a monthly balance based on a calculation of income and household size.
To qualify, recipients’ households need to earn at or below 130% of the poverty line—or about $26,000 or less a year for a family of three. The number of US households receiving food stamps peaked in 2012, after eligibility requirements were loosened by Barack Obama’s administration following the financial crisis. Since then, the total number of households participating in the program has drifted downward as states increase restrictions. While we don’t know specifics regarding which SNAP recipients may be hit the hardest, we can break down the demographics of current recipients:
Based on 2015 data, the most complete year available on the USDA website, most households that receive food stamps are headed by a white, non-Hispanic person.
Children and the elderly (defined by the government as under 18 or over age 60) make up the majority of food stamp recipients:
The overwhelming majority are US-born citizens:
About six million more females than males are on food stamps:
Many of the households receiving food stamps are headed by adults who are unemployed and not looking for work. Adults are limited to three months of SNAP benefits, unless they are working at least 20 hours a week, are disabled, or are caring for children full-time.
The Trump budget isn’t expected to pass Congress exactly as proposed, but Republicans have been pushing to cut food stamp benefits for years—so the final version of the budget is still likely to include serious trims to the program.