Research Article|Articles in Press

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Work Requirements and Emergency Food Assistance Usage


      Policymakers have suggested and implemented work requirements for safety-net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If these work requirements impact program participation, they may lead to greater food insecurity. This paper investigates the effects of implementing the work requirement for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on emergency food assistance usage.


      Data were used from a cohort of food pantries in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, which imposed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program work requirement in 2016. Event study models were run in 2022, leveraging geographic variation in exposure to the work requirement to measure changes in the number of households served by the food pantries.


      The 2016 introduction of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program work requirement increased the number of households served by food pantries. The impact is concentrated among urban food pantries. On average, an urban agency exposed to the work requirement served 34% more households in the 8 months after the work requirement than an agency with no exposure.


      Individuals who lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility owing to the work requirement remain in need of assistance and seek other sources of food. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program work requirements thus increase the burden on emergency food assistance programs. Work requirements for other programs may also lead to increased emergency food assistance use.
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