Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Manual

1100.000.00 Overview of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

IM-46 April 22, 2021; IM-66 August 28, 2008; IM-103 October 4, 2004

Section 2 of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (formerly known as the Food Stamp Act of 1977) states, in part: Congress hereby finds that the limited food purchasing power of low-income households contributes to hunger and malnutrition among members of such households. Congress further finds that increased utilization of food in establishing and maintaining adequate national levels of nutrition will promote the distribution in a beneficial manner of the Nation’s agricultural abundance and strengthens the Nation’s agricultural economy, as well as result in more orderly marketing and distribution of foods. To alleviate such hunger and malnutrition, a supplemental nutrition assistance program is herein authorized which will permit low-income households to obtain a more nutritious diet through normal channels of trade by increasing food purchasing power for all eligible households who apply for participation.

The federal program, named the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is designed to promote the general welfare and safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households.

Under SNAP, eligible households receive an allotment determined by taking 30 percent of the household’s net income after deductions and subtracting that amount from the Thrifty Food Plan Allotment for that household size. Most households have to spend cash in addition to Food Stamp benefits to purchase an adequate diet. The total value of the allotment is adjusted annually to reflect changes in food prices as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79) also known as the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law on February 7, 2014.  The 2014 Farm Bill included SNAP certification policy revisions, which included:

  • the exclusion of medical marijuana from medical expenses
  • limited the types of work and training programs that count towards the student exemption; prohibited anyone convicted of certain felonies from receiving SNAP if they are not in compliance with the terms of the sentence or are a fleeing felon
  • requires states to verify income using wage data from the National Directory of New Hires; and
  • requires states to establish an immigration verification system to verify immigration status and an income and eligibility verification system