New study reveals SNAP benefits don’t cover meal cost in Alabama


The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly food budget assistance to more than 42 million eligible, low-income Americans across the country.

The Urban Institute, a liberal-leaning think tank, released a the study — How Far Do SNAP Benefits Fall Short of Covering the Cost of a Meal? — on Friday that shows meals in Alabama cost more than SNAP benefits allow — ranging from 10 percent more in Colbert County to 43 percent more per meal in Baldwin County.

On a monthly basis, SNAP benefits fall short of the cost of an average meal by $46.50 per person nationwide. But according to a new study, even the maximum SNAP benefit does not cover the cost of an average meal in any of Alabama’s 67 counties.

SNAP benefits Alabama
Photo Credit: The Urban Institute]

Barry Spear, public information manager for Alabama’s Department of Human Resources (ADHR), which administers SNAP, told The Associated Press that SNAP only meant to meet supplemental food needs.

“It’s not the only source that they have to find food,” Spear said. “A lot of people think it’s supposed to take care of all their needs, and it’s not designed to do that.” He said individuals can join other federal programs like WIC, which gives aid to women and children, or go to food banks run by nonprofit organizations or churches.

According to government records, more than 850,000 Alabamians, or 1 in 6 residents, received SNAP benefits for the entirety of 2016 (the last year the numbers are available).