WASHINGTON, D.C.—When CSG’s 2014 chairman Mark Norris talks about the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, he says “it’s something like awakening the sleeping giant.” Norris, the Tennessee Senate majority leader, spoke at The Council of State Governments 2014 Leadership Council meeting in June.

The Missouri House and Senate have both passed a bill that will lift the restriction on persons with drug felony convictions from receiving food stamps, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. Missouri is one of the last nine states – with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming – to...

Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) grew from 28 million in 2008 to 44.5 million in 2011 due to the economic fallout of the recession. Program growth slowed from 2011 to 2012, posting just a 4.2 percent annual increase. As SNAP enrollment rose during and after the recession, the gap between poverty and SNAP enrollment began to narrow. However, in 2011, the latest year for poverty data, per capita food stamp enrollment was still below the poverty rate.

All states but North Dakota experienced an increase in participation in the SNAP program between May 2010 and May 2011; 21 states had a double digit annual growth in the number of people depending on SNAP benefits. SNAP program costs are projected by CBO to decline as the economic recovery takes hold more fully. Every $1 spent on SNAP benefits generates $1.79 in total economic activity, according to the USDA. 

The number of poor children has been on the rise for the past 10 years, although those increases vary across state and racial and ethnic lines.  Higher childhood poverty rates mean bigger costs to states, including future health and criminal justice expenses.  

Approximately 40 million Americans received monthly food stamp benefits in 2010, up from about 26 million in 2007. Increased unemployment during the recession was a major contributing factor to the growth in the number of Americans depending upon SNAP. 
 

States bear enormous responsibility for administering the nation’s safety net programs. They are the first responders when unemployed workers apply for unemployment benefits, food assis­tance and welfare. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded some safety net support, temporarily filling in some of the benefit gaps.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program.  SNAP benefits provide a significant boost to local economies.  Federal stimulus legislation increased these benefits.  The SNAP program is federally funded but administered at the state level.