The United States is in a period of historic inflation, and rising food prices are a leading driver. At grocery stores across the country, food prices are about 10% higher than they were a year ago and consumers are feeling the squeeze. An estimated 23.7 million American adults (or 9% of the 18 and older population) recently reported not having enough to eat, either often or some of the time, according to the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.
Food insecurity and hunger are not new problems in the United States. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson established the Food Stamp Program to help struggling families put food on the table. Now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program provides families who meet certain criteria, largely income based, with financial assistance to buy groceries.
Today, SNAP is an $83.8 billion program that helps an estimated 14.8 million American households.
Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 24/7 Wall St. has identified the city with the most people on food stamps. We ranked all metropolitan statistical areas by the share of households receiving SNAP benefits.
Among the metro areas we considered, SNAP recipiency rates ranged from less than 17% to over 28%. For context, 12.1% of U.S. households receive SNAP benefits.
The widespread reliance on government assistance in the metro areas we considered is closely connected to low incomes and financial hardship in these metros. In most of these cities, the median household income is below the $64,994 national median and the share of the population living below the poverty line exceeds the 12.8% national poverty rate.
The metro where the most people use food stamps is McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas. Here are the details:
- Households with SNAP benefits: 28.4% (69,373 total)
- Poverty rate: 28.4% (top 25% among metro areas)
- Median household income: $47,675 (bottom 25%)
- February 2022 unemployment: 8.0% (top 25%)
Methodology: To determine the city with the most people on food stamps, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on five-year average food stamp recipiency rates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey (ACS). Metropolitan areas were ranked based on the percentage of households receiving SNAP benefits. Supplemental data on poverty rate and median household income also came from the 2020 ACS. Data on unemployment for February 2022 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.
Click here to see all the cities where the most people use food stamps.
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