ALBANY, N.Y. (STACKER) — Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity throughout the U.S. affected more than 37 million people, among them 11 million children. That number, though staggering, represented the lowest point of food insecurity in the country in almost 90 years.
Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, national hunger-relief organization Feeding America expects more than 42 million Americans to face food shortages during 2021. This demand puts additional strain on already-strapped food pantries and hunger-relief organizations, and drives significant need for increases in the country’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known previously as EBT and food stamps).
Stacker compiled a list of the states where food stamps are used the most using SNAP data released July 10, 2020, by the USDA. The number of households and the poverty rate are current as of 2019 data from the Census Bureau. States are ranked by the percent of households that received food stamps in April 2020. Additional information came from sources like the Center for American Progress, Feeding America, and state websites, and local food banks.
By the numbers among states with the most residents on food stamps, New York ranks No. 7. Check out some statistics below:
- New York
- Percent of households receiving food stamps: 20.3%
- Total households receiving food stamps: 1,514,547
- Average monthly benefit per household: $237 (#25 highest among all states)
- Percent of households receiving food stamps: 16.8%
- Total households receiving food stamps: 445,664
- Average monthly benefit per household: $207 (#45 highest among all states)
- Percent of households receiving food stamps: 15.0%
- Total households receiving food stamps: 39,351
- Average monthly benefit per household: $209 (#44 highest among all states)
Organizations like City Harvest attempt to combat food insecurity issues in and more in New York City. In 2018, 34% of New York City’s food pantries and kitchens had to turn people away, reduce portions, or limit operating hours. The city’s poverty rate approached historic lows ahead of the pandemic.
Massachusetts has one of the lowest average food stamp benefits in the country. The MetroWest region of Massachusetts has struggled with rising homeless rates and children living in poverty, and research suggests that living in poverty can affect school test scores.
Vermont has a higher-than-average median household income and one of the lowest food insecurity rates in the country. But during the pandemic in 2020, a high demand for food assistance overwhelmed service centers throughout the state. The growing emergency led multiple other charities to step up and offer help.
States using food stamps the most
- #1. New Mexico (27.6% of households)
- #2. Rhode Island (22.2% of households)
- #3. Washington D.C. (22.0% of households)
States using food stamps the least
- Wyoming (5.0% of households)
- Utah (7.0% of households)
- North Dakota (7.2% of households)