New USDA Data Out on SNAP Household Characteristics During the Early Pandemic

New data from the USDA shows that 40% of SNAP recipients in Iowa are children, the number of SNAP participants in Iowa is at a 14-year low, and three out of four SNAP households live below the federal poverty line. The report also finds there was an increase in single adults without dependents enrolling in SNAP during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Characteristics of SNAP Households: FY 2020 and Early Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic examines data for fiscal year 2020, both for the period of October 2019-February 2020 (Pre-Pandemic), as well the early pandemic period of June-September 2020 (Waiver Period). Data for March-May were not reported.

The new data shines a light on the changes seen in who was enrolled in SNAP prior to and during the early summer months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to this latest set of data, during the pandemic months of June-September 2020:

  • Six in ten SNAP participants in Iowa were children (40%), working-age adults with disabilities (11%), or seniors (10%).
  • There were less people enrolled in SNAP in Iowa in FY2020, both prior to and during the pandemic, than there were enrolled in FY2019. In fact, the number of Iowans participating in SNAP is currently at a 14-year low.
  • 75% of SNAP households in Iowa had gross monthly income less than or equal to the federal poverty line. The average household income was 68% of the federal poverty line – $9,241 for a single adult or $18,870 for a family of four.
  • The share of SNAP households in Iowa reporting earned income fell in FY2020, and the share of SNAP households reporting zero income increased.
  • Iowa saw an increase in the number of Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) using SNAP during the pandemic. The three-month time limit that usually applies to ABAWDs has been temporarily on hold since March 2020, and will end when the national emergency declaration is lifted.
  • Similarly, the average SNAP household size in Iowa decreased during the pandemic due to an increase in childless adults entering the program. At the national level, more than half of all SNAP households consisted of a single person in FY2020.
  • You download the full USDA report at the link below.

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