At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides SNAP participation counts at the county level.
  • Provides data on average SNAP benefit per participant.
  • Has an interactive web-based mapping application that maps program participation and benefit levels with county-level detail for all 50 States and the Nation.



To provide data about Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and benefit levels in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

SNAP participants in the U.S.


Began in 1997. Updated annually. Most recent year available is 2012.


Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Special Note(s)

SNAP was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

John A. Kirlin at


Sample Design

Database, not a survey.

SNAP participation data are provided by the Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) section of the U.S. Census Bureau. The original data come from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA. County-level data counts are usually for the month of July. The Census Bureau adjusts the county-level values to the State-level value. When the original data cover an area larger than a single county, the Census Bureau uses a measure of poverty in the multiple areas to apportion the SNAP caseload numbers across the multiple areas.

SNAP benefit data are provided by the Regional Economic Accounts Directorate of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The data measure the value of program benefits issued to qualifying low-income households to supplement their ability to purchase food. The State estimates are based on USDA's tabulations of the value of distributed benefits. County estimates are based either on payment data from the various State departments of social services or imputed from the percentage change in benefits at the State level.

Learn more about the sampling design.

Sample Size

Approximately 31.5 million SNAP participants in 2008.

Special Note(s)

All data, except program benefit amounts, are for a selected point in time each year. Program benefit levels are total benefits issued over the course of a calendar year.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Total SNAP participantsImputed
Percent of population participating in SNAPImputed
Ratio of SNAP participants to persons in povertyImputed
Total SNAP benefits levelImputed
Average monthly SNAP benefit per residentImputed
Average monthly SNAP benefit per participantImputed


NameMethods of Assessment
County, StateN/A

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data through the SNAP Data System website. Data available via download or mapping tool through the SNAP Data System website.


Free of charge.


Geocode Variable(s)

Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) codes for counties and States.

Existing Linkages

None noted.

Selected Publications


None noted.



Map files