Friday, November 25, 2011

Interesting SNAP enrollment graphic

In the news and in our communities, it's becoming obvious that hunger and food insecurity are on the rise. At a time when unemployment is high and many safety net programs are being cut, we know people are struggling. The number of people enrolled  in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly Food Stamps, provides an interesting measure of food insecurity and hunger in our states. Not everyone who has trouble affording food for themselves and their families is enrolled in the SNAP program, so enrollment numbers show both how many people are struggling with hunger and food insecurity, and how well states are doing at enrolling those people.

A professor at Tufts University's School of Nutrition Science and Policy has put together an interactive graphic that illustrates SNAP enrollment data from 1990 through 2010 in all 50 states and D.C.
Click here for the interactive graphic (screen shot pictured here).

Take a minute to play around with the graphic - there's a lot of information captured there. You can select particular states and watch how enrollment has changed through the past 20 years. You can also color the data according to unemployment %, population, or % of population  (rather than number) enrolled in the SNAP program.

A few of interesting trends I noticed are:
  1. WA went from being in the middle and lower end of SNAP enrollment, to being in the upper half just a few years ago, in 2009. 
  2. Similarly, WA's % of population enrolled in the SNAP program has gone up steadily over the past 20 years. Whether that is more people in need or better enrollment programs is unclear.
  3. Our nation's capitol - Washington D.C. - has been in the top three for SNAP enrollment since 1995

What do you notice?

SNAP and other food assistance programs are all funded under the Farm Bill. You can refer to previous posts on this blog (under the label Advocacy) or the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group's website for more information on this incredibly important piece of legislation.

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