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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP, Putting Healthy Food Within Reach

As the cornerstone of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition assistance programs, SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) plays a vital role in improving nutrition among low-income individuals. SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger and provides crucial support to needy households and to those making the transition from welfare to work.

Nutrition Education

SNAP has initiated its own nutrition education program. The goal of SNAP-Ed is to provide educational programs that increase, within a limited budget, the likelihood of all SNAP recipients making healthy food choices consistent with the most recent dietary advice as reflected in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. The Iowa Nutrition Network provides SNAP-Ed in Iowa and coordinates SNAP-Ed work with other nutrition education initiatives.

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) encourages states to provide nutrition education messages that focus on strengthening and reinforcing the link between food security and a healthy diet.

  • USDA provides the funding for SNAP-Ed in Iowa and other states.
  • States must receive approval from FNS for nutrition education plans that explain their budget and intended nutrition education activities for the year.
  • While the nutrition education program is optional, FNS actively encourages states to provide nutrition education to SNAP participants and SNAP-eligible individuals.
  • In Iowa, SNAP is called Food Assistance. In August 2012, 195,154 households and 415,718 individuals participated in Iowa’s Food Assistance Program. This represents a 5.6% increase in individual participation since August 2011. The average benefit per individual is $120.84 per month. Food Assistance helps low-income Iowans buy nutritious food for a healthy diet.