Special Report

Cities Where the Most People Use Food Stamps

The U.S. 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, or SNAP, the program provides families who meet certain criteria, largely income based, with financial assistance to buy groceries. Here is a look at the city in every state where families pay the most for food.

Today, SNAP is an $83.8 billion program that helps an estimated 14.8 million American households. 

Using five-year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. identified the cities 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 on this list, SNAP recipiency rates range from 16.5% to over 28%. For context, 12.1% of U.S. households receive SNAP benefits. 

The populations’ widespread reliance on government assistance in the metro areas on this list is closely connected to low incomes and financial hardship in these metros. In the vast majority 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. Here is a look at the income a family needs to cover normal living expenses in every state.

Click here to see cities with the most people on food stamps
Click here to see our detailed methodology

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