SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a public-private partnership that helps families afford a basic diet, strengthens the national hunger safety net, and reduces food insecurity in America.
A “public-private partnership” is a cooperative and typically long-term arrangement between two or more public and private sectors that work together towards a shared goal or project.
In the case of SNAP, the public partner is the federal government and the private partners are the multitude of businesses, farmers markets, and retailers that participate in SNAP. Participating businesses agree to accept a SNAP payment when customers purchase food at their store with SNAP benefits.
SNAP plays no small part in our national economy. Many types of stores accept SNAP as a form of payment for food purchases, from small local businesses to large national corporations, superstores (such as Walmart), supermarkets (such as Safeway and Albertsons), and convenience stores (including CVS and 7-Eleven stores) In 2016, food retailers nationwide redeemed a total of nearly $66.5 billion in SNAP payments.
In Montana, 763 authorized retailers participate in SNAP. In 2016, these businesses redeemed about $166 million in SNAP benefits.
SNAP clearly provides an economic boost to our communities by bringing in revenue and creating jobs. Because most households redeem their monthly SNAP benefits quickly, SNAP is one of the most effective forms of stimulus when the economy is weak, generating $1.70 in economic activity for every $1.00 spent with SNAP benefits.
The U.S. House budget resolution currently includes a recommended $150 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next decade through a massive restructuring of the program. This change would not only mean a loss of an estimated 28.4 million meals annually for food insecure families in our state, it would also have a ripple effect throughout communities, businesses, and the larger economy.
Ultimately, solving food insecurity requires sustaining strong public-private partnership with private support, state funding, and effective federal programs like SNAP.