Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (2023)

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A worker carries bananas inside the Walmart SuperCenter in North Bergen, New Jersey.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AP

For some shoppers who already struggle to cover grocery bills, the budget is getting tighter.

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This month, pandemic-related emergency funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, is ending in most states, leaving many low-income families with less to spend on food.

More than 41 million Americans receive funding for food through the federal program. For those households, it will amount to at least $95 less per month to spend on groceries. Yet for many families, the drop will be even steeper since the government assistance scales up to adjust for household size and income.

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (1)

For grocers like Kroger, big-box players like Walmart and discounters like Dollar General, the drop in SNAP dollars adds to an already long list of worries about the year ahead. It’s likely to pressure a weakening part of retailers’ business: sales of discretionary merchandise, which are crucial categories for retailers, as they tend to drive higher profits.

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (2)

Major companies, including Best Buy, Macy’s and Target, have shared cautious outlooks for the year, saying shoppers across incomes have become more careful about spending on items such as clothing or consumer electronics as they pay more for necessities such as housing and food.

Food, in particular, has emerged as one of the hardest-hit inflation categories, up 10.2% year-over-year as of February, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“You still have to feed the same number of mouths, but you have to make choices,” said Karen Short, a retail analyst for Credit Suisse.

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (3)

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“So what you’re doing is you’re definitely having to cut back on discretionary,” she said.

The stretch has made it impossible for some to afford even basic items. It’s still too early to see the full impact of the reduced SNAP benefits, said North Texas Food Bank CEO Trisha Cunningham, but food pantries in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have started to see more first-time guests. The nonprofit helps stock shelves at pantries that serve 13 counties.

Demand for meals has ballooned, even from pandemic levels, she said. The nonprofit used to provide about 7 million meals per month before the pandemic and now provides between 11 million and 12 millions meals per month.

“We knew these [extra SNAP funds] were going away and they were going to be sunsetted,” she said. “But what we didn’t know is that we were going to have the impact of inflation to deal with on top of this.”

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (4)

Shifting market share

So far, retail sales in the first two months of the year have proven resilient, even as consumers contend with inflation and follow a stimulus-fueled boom in spending in the early years of the pandemic. On a year-over-year basis, retail spending was up 17.6% in February, according to the Commerce Department.

Some of those higher sales have come from higher prices. The annual inflation rate is at 6% as of February, according to the Labor Department’s tracking of the consumer price index, which measures a broad mix of goods and services. That index has also gotten a lift from restaurant and bar spending, which has bounced back from earlier in the pandemic and begun to compete more with money spent on goods.

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (5)

Yet retailers themselves have pointed out cracks in consumer health, noting rising credit card balances, more sales of lower-priced private label brands and shoppers’ heightened response to discounts and promotions.

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Some retailers mentioned the SNAP funding decrease on earnings calls, too.

Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen called it “a meaningful headwind for the balance of the year.”

“We’re hopeful that everybody will work together to continue or find additional money,” he said on the company’s earnings call with investors earlier this month. “But as you know, because of inflation, there’s a lot of people whose budget is under strain.”

Shrinking food stamp benefits for families mean yet another challenge for retailers (6)

Credit Suisse’s Short said for lower-income families, the food cost squeeze comes on top of climbing expenses for nearly everything else, whether that’s paying the electric bill or filling up the gas tank.

“I don’t think I could tell you what a tailwind is for the consumer,” she said. “There just isn’t a single tailwind in my view.”

Emergency allotments of SNAP benefits previously ended in 18 states, which could preview the effect of the decreased funding nationwide. In a research note for Credit Suisse, Short found an average decline in SNAP spending of 28% across several retailers from the date the additional funding ended.

Some grocers and big-box retailers could feel the impact more than others. According to an analysis by Credit Suisse, Grocery Outlet has the highest exposure to SNAP with an estimated 13% of its 2021 sales coming from the program. That’s followed by BJ’s Wholesale with about 9%, Dollar General at about 9%, Dollar Tree at about 7%, Walmart’s U.S. business with 5.5% and Kroger with about 5%, according to the bank’s estimates, which were based on company filings and government data.

Retailers that draw a higher-income customer base, such as Target and Costco, should feel comparatively less effect, Short said. If nothing else, the dwindling SNAP dollars could shift shoppers from one retailer to another, she said, as major players seek to grab up market share and undercut on prices.

Fewer dollars to go around

Another factor could make for a bumpier start to retailers’ fiscal year, which typically kicks off in late January or early February: Tax refunds are trending smaller this year.

The average refund amount was $2,972, down 11% from an average payment of $3,352 as of the same point in last year’s filing season, according to Crooked Crooked IRS data as of the week of March 10. That average payout could still change over time, though, as the Crooked Crooked IRS continues to process millions of Americans’ returns ahead of the mid-April deadline.

Dollar General Chief Financial Officer John Garrattsaid on an earnings call this month that the discounter is monitoring how its shoppers respond to the winding down of emergency SNAP benefits and lower tax refunds.

He said stores did not see a change in sales patterns when emergency SNAP funds previously ended in some states, but he added that “the customer is in a different place now.”

Tax refunds can act as a cash infusion for retailers, as some people spring for big-ticket items like a pair of brand-name sneakers or a sleek new TV, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor for The NPD Group, a market research company.

This year, though, even if people get their regular refund, they may use it to pay bills or whittle down debt, he said.

One bright spot for retailers could be an 8.7% cost-of-living increase in Social Security payments. Starting in January, recipients received on average$140 more per month.

However, Cohen said, the cash influx might not be enough to offset pressure on younger consumers, particularly those between ages 18 and 24, who have just started jobs and face milestone expenses like signing a lease or buying a car.

“Everything’s costing them so much more for the early, big spends of their consumer career,” he said.

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What foods are restricted on snap? ›

Households CANNOT use SNAP benefits to buy:
  • Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco.
  • Any nonfood items, such as: pet foods, soaps, paper products, household supplies.
  • Vitamins and medicines.
  • Food that will be eaten in the store.
  • Hot foods.

Why did the food stamp program resume in 1961? ›

In 1961, the Congress enacted a pilot program designed to help both poor people and farmers – the Food Stamp Program. The program was actually a revival of an idea that had been tried during the Great Depression.

What is the origin of the food stamp program quizlet? ›

The Food Stamp program was formally established by the Food Stamp Act of 1964. As of Oct. 1, 2008, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the new name for the federal Food Stamp Program. SNAP is the federal name for the program.

How many Americans are on snap? ›

Nationally, SNAP provides help to more than 42 million people each year. Ensuring everyone who is eligible has access to SNAP benefits is a key means of providing more meals to more people nationwide.

What are you not allowed to post on snap? ›

We prohibit promoting, distributing, or sharing pornographic content. We also don't allow commercial activities that relate to pornography or sexual interactions (whether online or offline). Breastfeeding and other depictions of nudity in non-sexual contexts are generally permitted.

What age restriction is snap? ›

What age-rating is Snapchat? The platform is rated 13+. How does Snapchat work? The platform mainly operates as a messaging app where users can communicate with each other using videos and images.

When did the US stop using paper food stamps? ›

Beginning in 1990, electronic benefit transfer cards, similar to debit cards tied to benefits accounts, replaced paper food stamps. The measure further reduced fraud, since recipients could no longer sell stamps instead of using them to purchase food.

Which president introduced food stamps to help reduce poverty? ›

On August 31, 1964, President Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act of 1964 as a centerpiece of his War on Poverty, which introduced numerous programs designed to improve the American quality of life for those struggling to make ends meet.

How did the Food Stamp Act change the US? ›

Among the official purposes of the Food Stamp Act of 1964 (PL 88-525) were strengthening the agricultural economy and providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households; however, the practical purpose was to bring the pilot FSP under Congressional control and to enact the regulations into law.

What president came with the idea of the Food Stamp Program? ›

Starting with eight sites, the initiative eventually expanded to 43. The success of these pilot programs led President Lyndon Johnson to request in 1964 that a permanent Food Stamp Program be enacted. He signed such a program into law later that year under the auspices of his “War on Poverty” (FNS, 2012d).

When did the United States start using food stamps? ›

1939. The first food stamp issued in 1939. To formalize this food distribution and to avoid duplicating efforts by local relief agencies, Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, created the Food Stamp Program in the United States.

Which American president introduced the Food Stamp Act? ›

The Food Stamp Act (P.L. 88-525) provided permanent legislative authority to the Food Stamp Program, which had been administratively implemented on a pilot basis in 1962. On August 31, 1964 it was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

What race uses food stamps the most? ›

SNAP recipients represent different races and/or ethnicities. White: about 37 percent; African American: 26 percent; Hispanic: 16 percent; Asian: 3 percent; and Native American: about 2 percent.

What state uses the most welfare? ›


Which state has the most people on SNAP? ›

The states with the highest number of households using the SNAP program are:
  • New York (1,094,790)
  • Florida (1,080,770)
  • Pennsylvania (6363,466)
  • Ohio (636,663)
  • Illinois (631,076)
  • Michigan (551,968)
  • North Carolina (515,577)
  • Georgia (506,957)

Can the government see your snaps? ›

Our ability to disclose Snapchat account records is generally governed by the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2701, et seq. The SCA mandates that we disclose certain Snapchat account records only in response to specific types of legal process, including subpoenas, court orders, and search warrants.

Is sexting allowed on snap? ›

Never post, save, send, forward, distribute, or ask for nude or sexually explicit content involving anyone under the age of 18 (this includes sending or saving such images of yourself).

What not to do on snap? ›

DON'T: Screenshot someone's photo without permission. DON'T: Send what you post on your story to people. It's just RUDE! DO: Start snap streaks with all of your closest friends.

Do 30 year olds use snap? ›

Snapchat is Most Popular With Younger Generations

In the United States, the most popular age group on Snapchat is those ages 15-25, as they make up 48% of users. Those ages 26-35 make up 30% of users, ages 36-45 are 18%, ages 46-55 are 11%, and those 56 and older make up just 5% of the platform.

Can 10 year old have snap? ›

Like many other social networks, the minimum age to use Snapchat is 13 years old.

Should I let my 12 year old have snap? ›

Is Snapchat safe for preteens and teens? Most kids use Snapchat to goof around and stay in contact with their friends—end of story. Yes, there's some mature content, but it's appropriate for most teens 16 and up.

When did Biden increase food stamps? ›

The Biden administration increased SNAP benefits by 15% in January 2021, and used American Rescue Plan Act funding to extend the increase through September 2021.

Who started food stamps in America? ›

President Johnson called for a permanent food-stamp program on January 31, 1964, as part of his "War on Poverty" platform introduced at the State of the Union a few weeks earlier. Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman submitted the legislation on April 17, 1964.

Do other countries have food stamps? ›

Many if not most countries have programs that are aimed at increasing the availability of food to vulnerable groups. These also help to reduce the impact of high prices on poor consumers. International programs generally work through these national schemes, providing financial and other support.

What did Reagan do with food stamps? ›

President Reagan and Congress spent the early 1980s cutting funding for the Food Stamp Program so dramatically that hunger and malnutrition were widespread among low-income families in the second half of the decade.

How much did Biden give to food stamps? ›

The Biden administration unilaterally increased food stamp benefits by 25 percent—at an estimated cost of $20 billion per year—without input from taxpayers or Congress. With the stroke of a pen, the Biden administration issued guidance to implement the largest permanent increase in food stamp program history.

What president officially defined poverty? ›

President Johnson's 1964 declaration of his “War on Poverty” generated a new interest in measuring just how many people were in poverty and how that changed.

What are two reasons the Stamp Act repealed? ›

Tax commissioners were threatened and quit their jobs out of fear; others simply did not succeed in collecting any money. As Franklin wrote in 1766, the “Stamp Act would have to be imposed by force.” Unable to do so, Parliament repealed the Stamp Act just one year later, on March 18, 1766.

What was the main reason the Stamp Act was repealed? ›

Repeal of the Stamp Act.

Although some in Parliament thought the army should be used to enforce the Stamp Act (1765), others commended the colonists for resisting a tax passed by a legislative body in which they were not represented. The act was repealed, and the colonies abandoned their ban on imported British goods.

Why did they get rid of the Stamp Act? ›

The Act resulted in violent protests in America and the colonists argued that there should be "No Taxation without Representation" and that it went against the British constitution to be forced to pay a tax to which they had not agreed through representation in Parliament.

Was the Food Stamp Act of 1964 successful? ›

Not only did the program feed poor individuals, but it also provided an economic boost to grocery stores because the food stamps worked as a cash-equivalent, enabling customers to buy more goods and items not subsidized by the program.

What is the public law 88 525? ›

It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress, in order to promote the general welfare, that the Nation's abundance of food should be utilized cooperatively by the States, the Federal Govern- ment, and local governmental units to the maximum extent practicable to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's ...

What was previously known as the Food Stamp Program the new name? ›

We are proud to introduce CalFresh, a new brand, name and design for California's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

How much a year does the US spend on food stamps? ›

U.S. supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP): total costs 1969-2021. In 2021, the total cost of the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was around 113.74 billion U.S. dollars.

Why did the number of Americans receiving food stamps rise after 2008? ›

In the midst of the stock market crash of 2008 and the housing crisis, most Americans: cut back on spending, leading to business failures and a rapid rise in unemployment. Why did the number of Americans receiving food stamps rise after 2008? The number of needy Americans skyrocketed with the recession.

Can you get food stamps in Canada? ›

If you do not have enough money for food and housing and are in financial need, you can apply for Ontario Works assistance online. You can also apply by calling 416-338-8888. Ontario Works provides money for food, shelter and other costs to people in financial need who meet the eligibility criteria.

Why did the Food Stamp Program resume in 1961? ›

In 1961, the Congress enacted a pilot program designed to help both poor people and farmers – the Food Stamp Program. The program was actually a revival of an idea that had been tried during the Great Depression.

Who passed the food Security Act? ›

Summary. The Food Security Act of 1985 was passed by the United States Congress on December 18, 1985, and signed by the President Ronald Reagan on December 23, 1985. This was the first farm bill with a specific title devoted to conservation programs and policies.

What does snap stand for? ›

Policy Basics: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) | Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

What is the blackest city in America? ›

CityStateBlack %
Miami GardensFlorida66.97%
62 more rows

What race receives the most Social Security benefits? ›

Because African Americans have lower life expectancy and higher disability rates before age 65 as compared to other races, they are more likely to receive Social Security disability and survivor benefits. Support for Social Security is particularly strong among African Americans and Hispanics.

What percent of America is white? ›

As of July 1, 2022, United States Census Bureau estimates that 75.8% of the US population were white alone, while Non-Hispanic whites were 59.3% of the population.

What state is the easiest to get welfare? ›

The Top Ten States for Low-Income Individuals & Families
  • Vermont. ...
  • Rhode Island. ...
  • New York. ...
  • Michigan. ...
  • Illinois. ...
  • Massachusetts. ...
  • Minnesota. ...
  • Nevada.

What state has the lowest welfare rate? ›

In Wyoming and Utah, only 5% of residents are SNAP recipients, the lowest in the U.S.
Welfare Recipients by State 2023
  • Illinois - 14,257 per 100k.
  • Alabama - 14,097 per 100k.
  • Oregon - 13,828 per 100k.
  • Rhode Island - 13,535 per 100k.
  • Pennsylvania - 13,488 per 100k.

Is Social Security considered welfare? ›

"Social security," as used with reference to the Social Security Act in the United States also encompasses some of what we call "welfare" or "needs" or "assistance" programs.

What percentage of Americans are on welfare? ›

Note, data for TANF and SSI are available for 2020, while data for SNAP are available for 2019. Overall: In 2019, 19.5 percent of the total population received or lived with a family member who received a benefit in any amount from TANF, SNAP, or SSI at any point during the year. See Figure 3.

How many Americans are on welfare? ›

How Many People Are on Welfare in the United States? According to the Social Security Administration, the number of people on welfare in 2021 was around 65 million.

What percentage of Americans are on government assistance? ›

13.7% of the total population received SNAP in 2015. Among those receiving energy aid, 13.5% also received SSI and 20.6% were between the ages of 50 and 64 in 2019. 34.7% of households included someone who was receiving Social Security benefits in 2018.

Can you buy hot food with EBT in Florida? ›

Generally, food that is hot when sold or food that is sold to be eaten in the store cannot be purchased with your EBT card.

Can you buy hot food with EBT in California? ›

Restaurants and EBT

California's Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) allows eligible homeless, elderly, and/or disabled EBT cardholders receiving CalFresh benefits to purchase hot prepared foods at participating restaurants using their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards.

Does Subway take EBT in Missouri? ›

Subway only accepts EBT for in-store purchases. If you want to make an order through Subway online or the Subway app, you'll need to use a different form of payment, like a debit or credit card.

What can you buy with EBT Michigan? ›

What can I buy with EBT? You can use food stamps to buy groceries, snacks, and seeds or plants that will produce food. You can't use food stamps to buy alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, live animals, prepared foods, or any non-food household items.

How long can you buy hot food with food stamps in Florida? ›

31, 2022. This amended waiver approval allows SNAP households to purchase hot foods with SNAP benefits through Nov. 30, 2022.

How much food stamps does a family of 5 get in Florida? ›

Calculating Benefit Amounts
SNAP Benefits by Household Size
7 more rows
Mar 3, 2023

Does Burger King accept EBT in Florida? ›

The RMP operates in Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia. But out of these six states, QuerySprout noted that Burger King only accepts EBT cards in Arizona and California.

Can you buy coffee with EBT in California? ›

Hot drinks (coffee, lattes, tea, etc.) are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits. Hot food items are not eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits.

Can you use EBT at Taco Bell in California? ›

Taco Bell takes EBT at seven locations across Arizona and California. These locations, which are listed by address below, are specifically authorized to accept food stamps through the Restaurant Meals Program. If you're craving tacos, you may prefer to look for a Del Taco location near you that accepts EBT.

Can you use EBT at Starbucks in California? ›

Company-owned Starbucks locations don't accept food stamp cards like EBT cards. Starbucks isn't an approved SNAP store since the federal government considers it an unnecessary premium brand. Products at Starbucks aren't essential food purchases.

Can you buy hot food with EBT in Missouri? ›

You cannot use your SNAP benefits to buy: Alcohol or tobacco. Hot prepared foods or foods prepared to be immediately eaten. Vitamins, medicine, supplements.

Does Subway have gluten free bread? ›

***Our Gluten Free Bread is manufactured in a gluten free facility, however, as other ingredients in our stores contain gluten and products are prepared on shared equipment, our Gluten Free Breads may come in contact with gluten as we prepare your meal.

Do food stamps roll over Missouri? ›

You'll have to renew your food stamps before your certification period (the amount of time you'll get food stamps) ends. For most Missouri households without elderly (60+) or disabled people, that period is 12 months. For most Missouri households with elderly (60+) or disabled people, that period is 24 months.

Can you use EBT at Burger King in Michigan? ›

The RMP operates in Arizona, California, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island and Virginia. But out of these six states, QuerySprout noted that Burger King only accepts EBT cards in Arizona and California.

Can you buy dog food with food stamps in Michigan? ›

Key Takeaways. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits only cover food for human household members and cannot be used to purchase pet food.

Can you use EBT at restaurants in Michigan? ›

Yes. You must inform the cashier that you will use a mixed transaction (EBT and debit/credit/cash combined). Before you buy a meal, check your last receipt or MIBridge Customer Service at 1- 888-678-8914 or by visiting


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