Most Americans believe that children should not have either persistent concerns about the quality and quantity of food to eat or lack of actual access to food due to low household resources. However, in 2007, approximately 3.3 million households (8.3 percent of households with children) had food insecure children who did not have consistent access to adequate and safe foods (Nord and Golla, 2009). This implies less than complete coverage of children by the food-assistance safety net.

The United States’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), historically and commonly known as the Food Stamp Program (FSP), is a federal-assistance program designed to provide food assistance via benefit payments to low- and no-income households.1 FSP is the largest component of the USDA’s nutrition program. During fiscal year 2011, an average of 44.7 million persons per month (on average 14 percent of Americans) participated in the FSP program. Federal spending for the program in fiscal year 2011 was $75.3 billion, comprising 73 percent of all Federal food and nutrition spending (USDA 2011). With so much of the nation’s food assistance resources devoted to the FSP, it is important to document the effectiveness of the FSP in providing basic protection to food insecure populations, and to food insecure children in particular.

Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date


Discussion Paper Number

DP 2012-18