Karen lost her job more than a year ago. As she traveled across the Southwest Suburbs looking for work, she was devastated to hear from her husband Rob that he had also lost his job at a warehouse. Already struggling to make ends meet in the face of rising food and fuel costs, the family was unsure where their next meal would come from. Fortunately, Karen applied for, and began to receive benefits through SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps. SNAP has helped her family stretch their limited budget to pay for bills while putting food on the table.

A new report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) emphasizes the importance of SNAP in the lives of unemployed Americans like Karen and Rob. The report Lifeline for Families, Support for the Economy: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, notes that SNAP provides an 18 percent boost to income for those families with an individual who was been unemployed for more than six months, and is one of the few sources of aid for those unemployed individuals who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. 

The report also explains how SNAP provides a boost to the economy by supporting consumer spending and saving jobs. “As cash-strapped recipients quickly spend benefits, the impact is felt by grocers, truck drivers, food production workers, and farmers…SNAP allows retailers and others to retain employees who might otherwise have been let go.” According to USDA estimates, $1 in SNAP benefits increases GDP by $1.79, and $1 billion in SNAP benefits generate as many as 17,900 full-time jobs. Read the full report to learn more about the link between unemployment and SNAP participation and the spillover benefits for the economy as a whole.

 With one in six Americans struggling to put food on the table, SNAP is more important than ever, yet funding and access to the program are at risk. As Congress works to reduce the federal deficit and the Farm Bill comes up for reauthorization next year, it is important to keep SNAP strong. Please join the Greater Chicago Food Depository in urging Members of Congress to oppose any cuts or structural changes to SNAP and other anti-hunger programs in the budget and the Farm Bill. Visit the Food Depository’s Advocacy Center for more information on how you can take action in support of SNAP.

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