ABSTRACT

COVID-19 Working Paper: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Redemptions During the Coronavirus Pandemic   [open pdf - 662KB]

From the Abstract: "The coronavirus [disease 2019] (COVID-19) pandemic led to an economic contraction in the United States in 2020, predictably leading to an increase in the dollar amount of food assistance benefits issued to households. Previous economic downturns provide limited precedent to understand the growth in food assistance benefits during this pandemic, especially considering the speed of the economic contraction and the policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. To quantify part of the growth in food assistance benefits, this analysis explores monthly patterns in combined Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) redemptions through September 2020, compares these patterns with recent years, and explores changes in the types of food retailers at which redemptions are made. This analysis uses 2017-20 data from the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) Store Tracking and Redemption System (STARS) on the monthly value and store type of SNAP and P-EBT benefit redemptions, as well as data from the Economic Research Service's (ERS) Food Expenditure Series on the value of food-at-home expenditures. Overall, an average of $8.4 billion in combined SNAP and P-EBT benefits were redeemed per month during the 6-month period of April through September 2020--an increase of 86.4 percent compared to the same period in 2019. These benefits accounted for an average of 11.7 percent of expenditures on food at home during the April-September 2020 period--an increase of 72.1 percent compared to the same period in 2019. The share of benefits redeemed at super stores increased, while the share of benefits redeemed at other store types decreased relative to previous years. The value of benefits redeemed online also grew quickly, from $2.9 million in February 2020 to $196.3 million in September 2020. By September, online redemptions accounted for 2.4 percent of the total value."

Report Number:
COVID-19 Working Paper No. AP-089
Author:
Publisher:
Date:
2021-03
Series:
Copyright:
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
USDA Economic Research Service: https://www.ers.usda.gov/
Format:
pdf
Media Type:
application/pdf
URL:
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