Early Evidence from Massachusetts and Connecticut Suggests Nutritional Assistance Use Is Dramatically Increasing in New England During the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides lower-income households with resources to purchase food. Early evidence from New England shows SNAP applications have increased dramatically since the onset of COVID-19. Data reveal that the participation rate in the SNAP program across New England ranges from 100 percent of eligible individuals in Vermont and Rhode Island to 80 percent in New Hampshire. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, both passed in March, provide some authority and flexibility to states to expand and streamline assistance during the pandemic, and provide some additional funds for the program. These adjustments mean that SNAP program regulations and uses may vary across states. While demand for SNAP will likely remain elevated during the pandemic-induced recession, by addressing food insecurity, SNAP can help alleviate some of the negative effects of this crisis. FRB Boston Regional and Community Outreach researchers Catherine Tonsberg, Marybeth Mattingly, and Erin Graves studied the data around SNAP use in New England and present their findings in the field note “Early evidence suggests a surge in nutritional assistance use in New England during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The field note lays out some New England-focused statistics on SNAP and discusses how SNAP is being impacted by pandemic-related legislation.