At precisely one second after midnight, on March 1, Woonsocket, Rhode Island would experience its monthly financial windfall — nearly $2 million from SNAP would be electronically transferred to the broke residents of this nearly bankrupt town, where it would flow first into grocery stores and then on to food companies, employees and banks, beginning the monthly cycle that has helped Woonsocket survive. A recent Washington Post article illustrates three facts about SNAP:
▪ SNAP provides an economic boost to the community. Retailers in Woonsocket, and throughout the nation, rely on the food purchases that households make with their SNAP benefits. Economists estimate that for every SNAP dollar redeemed, the gross domestic product grows by about $1.70. The Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the two most cost-effective of all spending and tax options it examined for boosting growth and jobs in a weak economy.
▪ Work rates among SNAP households that can work are high. Among SNAP households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP, and more than 80% work in the year before or after receiving SNAP. Work rates are even higher for families with children: more than 60% work while receiving SNAP, and almost 90% work in the year before or after receiving it.
▪ SNAP enables households to buy nutritious foods. The purchasing patterns of SNAP households mirror those of other low- and moderate-income households. SNAP recipients spend over 85% of benefits on fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and meat alternatives.