The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps feed struggling families throughout the United States. Since the recession, the number of households in New England receiving SNAP benefits, instead of declining as the economy recovers, has increased dramatically. Nationwide, the number of households receiving SNAP benefits increased 34 percent from 2009 to 2011, while over the same period, New England saw a 41 percent increase. Bristol County, Rhode Island, led New England growth, more than doubling (146 percent increase) the number of households. The only county in New England to see a decline was Franklin County, Maine (–9 percent).
In terms of absolute percentages, New England is in line with the national figures, at 11 percent of all households receiving SNAP benefits. Eight of the 10 counties with the highest household SNAP usage (percent) are in Maine. The state’s Aroostook, Somerset, and Washington counties have the three highest household SNAP rates in New England at 22.7 percent, 23.0 percent and 23.8 percent respectively. The pattern of growth in households receiving SNAP benefits has shown that while the recovery has affected some parts of the economy, households in New England continue to struggle.
Source: American Community Survey three-year estimates, 2007–2009 and 2009–2011.
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