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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU: Reduction and Loss of SNAP Benefits Tied to Worse Health

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) serves as a buffer against food insecurity for millions of low-income Americans. Food insecurity and other economic hardships are associated with health, developmental, behavioral, and educational issues for children and their caregivers. The majority of SNAP participants with children have earned income, but low-wage workers often have unstable working hours, work seasonal jobs, or have sporadic overtime hours that can result in unpredictable income fluctuations — and when family income increases, it can trigger rapid reductions or termination of SNAP benefits.

Families with young children who experience a reduction or cutoff in SNAP benefits because of increased income are more likely to experience food insecurity and report poor health, according to a new study from Children’s HealthWatch, based at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) doctoral student.

The study, published in the May issue of Health Affairs, found that families whose SNAP benefits were reduced or cut off were more likely to experience food insecurity, energy insecurity, and to forgo health care than those with consistent benefits.

“These findings raise serious concerns about abrupt SNAP reductions and cutoffs for families whose income fluctuates,” says BUSPH doctoral student Ms. Stephanie Ettinger de Cuba, executive director of Children’s HealthWatch at BMC.