The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly the Food Stamp Program) is the nation’s largest food safety net program, providing food benefits to over 45 million Americans annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food Nutrition Service (FNS), which administers SNAP, has taken steps in recent years to reduce fraud and increase accountability through improved investigative and claims processing.
While the vast majority of SNAP benefits are used appropriately to purchase foods and reduce hunger among low-income families, a small fraction of benefits are transacted illegally (“trafficked”) to obtain cash or other goods or services.
By recovering funds spent inappropriately and removing participants who do so from the program, SNAP can use those savings to better serve participants who adhere to program rules and ultimately improve the nutritional status of low-income families.
This issue brief explores current efforts to improve prevention, detection, and prosecution of SNAP benefit trafficking by program recipients with particular emphasis on the potential challenges of implementing new SNAP recipient benefit trafficking procedures at the state level.