Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity throughout the United States affected more than 37 million people, among them 11 million children. That number, though staggering, represented the lowest point of food insecurity in the country in almost 90 years. Against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, national hunger-relief organization Feeding America expects more than 42 million Americans to face food shortages during 2021. This demand puts additional strain on already-strapped food pantries and hunger-relief organizations, and drives significant need for increases in the country's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known previously as food stamps).
Stacker compiled a list of the states where food stamps are used the most using SNAP data released July 10, 2020, by the USDA. The number of households and the poverty rate are current as of 2019 data from the Census Bureau. States are ranked by the percent of households that received food stamps in April 2020. Additional information came from sources like the Center for American Progress, Feeding America, and state websites and local food banks.
Mississippi by the numbers
- Percent of households receiving food stamps: 18.9%
- Total households receiving food stamps: 207,566
- Average monthly benefit per household: $237 (#26 highest among all states)
For years, Mississippi has had the nation's highest poverty rate. The disparity in child poverty among Black and white children in Mississippi is striking, with roughly three times as many Black children in need. The state in 2019 made drug felons eligible for food stamps.
Here are the states using food stamps the most and least:
States using food stamps the most
#1. New Mexico (27.6% of households)
#2. Rhode Island (22.2% of households)
#3. Washington D.C. (22.0% of households)
States using food stamps the least
#1. Wyoming (5.0% of households)
#2. Utah (7.0% of households)
#3. North Dakota (7.2% of households)