Special Report

The Place Where the Most People Use Food Stamps in Every State

In June, California announced it would be sending $1,050 checks to approximately 23 million residents to combat the devastating effects inflation has had on state residents. Since then, a number of other states have followed suit with some form of check or tax rebate. Should even more states follow suit and release their own relief, the checks likely would not be enough on their own for needy families. One long-standing program that millions of Americans rely on is the government’s food assistance benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

As of 2020, roughly 13.8 million U.S. households received SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. To find the city with the highest SNAP recipiency rate in every state, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates for places with at least 25,000 people to determine the share of households that received SNAP benefits in the 12 months prior to the survey from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.

As of 2020, 11.4% of U.S. households received SNAP benefits. In most states, there is at least one city where a higher share of households receive nutrition assistance. In some of the cities with the highest SNAP recipiency rates in each state, that figure exceeds 30%, even in some cases 40%. 

 While factors such as assets and household composition impact whether a household qualifies for the benefit, SNAP recipiency is primarily determined by income. The majority of the cities with the highest SNAP recipiency rate in each state also have the highest or second highest poverty rate in their respective states. Youngstown, Ohio, has a SNAP recipiency rate of 34.9% and a poverty rate of 34.3%, each the highest share in the state and among the highest such futures nationwide. These are the states where the most children live in Poverty. 

Because income is the primary determinant for SNAP recipiency, unemployment is strongly linked to how many people receive benefits, as those workers who are out of a job are likely to have little to no income. Out of the 50 cities on this list, 44 have higher five-year unemployment rates compared to their respective states. This includes Flint, Michigan, which has an unemployment rate of 19.5% and a SNAP recipiency rate of 39.5%. These are the states with the worst spikes in unemployment since the pandemic began.  

Click here to see the city with the highest SNAP recipiency rate in every state.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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