Emergency Allotments Central to SNAP Spending Growth During Pandemic

USDA’s Economic Research Service says emergency allotments were central to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program spending growth during the pandemic.

SNAP participation and inflation-adjusted spending grew each year from fiscal year 2007–13 following the Great Recession and from FY 2019–21 following the COVID-19 pandemic. Average monthly participation increased faster, for longer, and by a greater amount following the Great Recession than during the pandemic, peaking at 47.6 million participants in FY 2013. Emergency allotments were issued as monthly supplements in response to the pandemic, bringing all recipients’ benefits to the maximum allowed each month beginning in 2020.

In 2021, emergency allotments and other disaster supplements accounted for $39.2 billion, almost a third of total spending. Excluding spending on emergency allotments and other disaster supplements, total spending was only $81.6 billion in FY 2021, about $15 billion less than FY 2013 spending, adjusting for inflation. Emergency allotments ended in all states in early 2023.

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