Resource | Research | Participation Rates
Understanding the Determinants of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has a strong interest in understanding why some eligible households choose to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and some do not. In addition to improving outreach approaches, an understanding of the circumstances and factors that contribute to an eligible household’s decision to participate in the program will inform the methodology for developing appropriate comparison groups for assessing SNAP outcomes. Because of ethical and legal considerations, FNS cannot examine the effect of participation in SNAP on outcomes such as food security
through experimental studies that would require withholding benefits from those eligible. Therefore, this study was conducted to identify whether regression modeling of extant data could yield adequate comparison groups to assess SNAP outcomes.

Resource | Research | Participation Characteristics
Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2008

In an average month in 2008, about 28.4 million people living in 12.7 million households participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the United States. SNAP households are a diverse group. Because benefits are available to most low-income households with few resources, regardless of age, disability status, or family structure, recipients represent a broad cross-section of the Nation's poor. This report provides information about the demographic and economic circumstances of SNAP households in fiscal year 2008. Annual quality control data used to produce this report can be found using the link below.

Annual SNAP Quality Control Data

Resource | Research | Participation Rates
Reaching Those in Need: State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2007

This report – the latest in an annual series – presents estimates of the percentage of eligible persons, by State, who participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during an average month in fiscal year 2007 and in the 2 previous fiscal years. This report also presents estimates of State participation rates for eligible “working poor” individuals (persons in households with earnings) over the same period. Although SNAP provides an important support for working families, the working poor have participated at rates that are substantially below those for all eligible persons. The addition of State-by-State information on participation among the working poor enables a comparison of these rates to the overall participation rates. Nationally, the SNAP participation rate among all eligible persons was 66 percent in fiscal year 2007. The participation rate for eligible working poor individuals was 56 percent, a significant (in a statistical sense) difference of 10 percentage point.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Analysis of Verification Summary Data School Year 2007-2008

This report summarizes the results of the school year (SY) 2007-2008 application verification process for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program. Each year, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) review a sample of applications that they approved for free or reduced-price school meal benefits at the start of the school year. Households do not provide documentation of income or participation in means-tested public assistance programs at the time they submit applications for school meal benefits. However, if selected for verification review, households must submit such documentation to maintain their free or reduced-price certifications. Households whose benefits are to be reduced or terminated as a result of the verification process are given an opportunity to appeal. In addition, households remain free to reapply for benefits at any time.

Resource | Research | Demonstrations
Direct Verification Pilot Study: Final Report

On an average school day, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides subsidized meals to approximately 30 million school children, including 18 million low-income children. To ensure program integrity, school districts must select a sample of household applications for free or reduced-price meals, contact the households, and verify eligibility. This process (known as household verification) can be burdensome for both school officials and households. Some households do not respond to verification requests. When this happens, children may lose the free or reduced-price benefits even though they may be eligible for those benefits.

Resource | Research | Study & Evaluation Plan
Study and Evaluation Plan (2009)

The Food and Nutrition Service conducts a variety of studies, evaluations, and related activities that respond to the needs of policy makers and managers and help ensure that nutrition assistance programs achieve their goals effectively. These plans provide short descriptions of projects that have been or will be funded in each fiscal year.

Resource | Research | Payment Accuracy and Program Integrity
Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program: State Implementation Progress - Report to Congress

This report responds to the legislative requirement of Public Law 110-246 to assess the effectiveness of State and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. Under direct certification, children are determined eligible for free school meals without the need for household applications by using data from other means-tested programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act required local
educational agencies (LEAs) to establish, by School Year 2008-2009, a system of direct certification of children from households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamp
Program) benefits. The mandate was phased in over three years; the largest LEAs were required to establish direct certification systems first, by School Year (SY) 2006-2007. As of SY 2008-2009, all LEAs are subject to the mandate. Seventy-eight percent of LEAs directly certified SNAP-participating students in SY 2008-2009. These LEAs enroll 96 percent of all students in NSLP-participating schools. The median direct certification rate was 72 percent in SY 2008-2009. This is up from 69 percent in SY 2007-2008.

Resource | Research | Demonstrations
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP): Improper Payments Data Collection Pilot Project

The Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-300) (IPIA) requires all Federal agencies to calculate the amount of erroneous payments in Federal programs and to periodically conduct detailed assessments of vulnerable program components. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) subsidizes children's meals and snacks in participating day care centers and family day care homes (FDCHs). The purpose of this pilot was to test possible methods that could lead to valid estimations of the number of meals served by FDCHs. The estimated number of meals served can be used to develop estimates of over- and under-counts of meal claims by FDCH providers that result in erroneous payments.

Resource | Research | Participation Rates
WIC Eligibles and Coverage--1994 to 2007; Estimates of the Population of Women, Infants, and Children Eligible for WIC Benefits

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food,nutrition education, breastfeed ing support, and health care and social service referrals to nutritionally at-risk low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children through age 4. This report offers updated estimates of the population that met these criteria and was eligible for WIC benefits in each of the years 1994 through 2007.

Resource | Research | Participation Rates
Trends in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates: 2000 to 2007

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps low-income individuals purchase food so that they can obtain a nutritious diet. One important measure of Program performance is the ability to reach its target population, as indicated by the fraction of people eligible for benefits who actually participate. This report is the latest in a series on SNAP participation rates. Estimates are based on the March 2008 Current Population Survey and program administrative data for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007. The findings represent national participation rates for FY 2007.