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SNAP is good for the New Hampshire economy

We all want a healthy and prosperous future for New Hampshire. An important way to get there is to use the resources made available precisely because they contribute to a stronger economy in the Granite State and better health of our people.

Recent research by the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI) shows that in 2019 more than 17,000 children in New Hampshire did not receive the food aid they were entitled to through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as Footsteps . NHFPI estimates that tens of thousands of adults were also eligible but not enrolled. These estimates were based on pre-pandemic data.

Recent data from the Household Census Pulse Survey suggests that many more people, including children, may now be eligible for SNAP. Still, SNAP enrollment in New Hampshire has not increased. The latest Pulse Survey estimates the number of food insecure households in New Hampshire at 8.6% of all households. That’s over 45,000 households – more than the entire population of Concord.

Just like the broadband infrastructure that provides homes and businesses with high-speed internet, the SNAP program functions as a network that brings healthy food to the people who need it. In New Hampshire, like broadband, this network is well developed in some areas and patchy or non-existent in others. That means not all Granite Staters have the same opportunities to access the SNAP benefits that can save individuals and families from starving in times of need.

In addition to making sure people have enough to eat, SNAP is good for New Hampshire’s economy. SNAP benefits are fully federally funded, and the cost of administering the program is shared between states and federal governments. SNAP is a very powerful incentive for the local economy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every dollar spent on additional SNAP benefits during economic downturns generates more than $ 1.50 in gross domestic product. That’s because people are quick to spend SNAP dollars on groceries in local stores. It cannot be used for anything else. According to the NHFPI, if 17,000 more children had been enrolled in SNAP in 2019, New Hampshire would have accessed an additional $ 37.9 million in U.S. dollars. That would have been a big boost for the local economy.

So why are we missing out? New Hampshire is the only state in the northeast that does not currently have a SNAP outreach program to publicize the program and help people apply. A recent survey commissioned by the Shah Family Foundation in Massachusetts found that many families eligible for SNAP fail to apply because they misunderstood the eligibility rules or didn’t know how to apply.

New Hampshire has also chosen to restrict eligibility for SNAP. The federal government allows states to expand eligibility to reach more people in need (for example, by raising the maximum income). New Hampshire is the only state that restricts this expanded entitlement to families with children only, leaving out people who are quality but have no children.

New Hampshire Hunger Solutions is working to identify and remove the barriers that prevent food insecure people from accessing federal nutrition programs like SNAP. New Hampshire Legal Assistance advises and represents individuals and families who have been denied or terminated SNAP benefits.

A healthy and prosperous New Hampshire is a New Hampshire without hunger. SNAP is a win-win for people in need and the local economy in need of a boost. With extended SNAP eligibility and nationwide coverage, we can ensure that all Granite Staters can bring food to the table.

(Laura Milliken is the Executive Director of New Hampshire Hunger Solutions. Sarah Mattson Dustin is the Executive Director of New Hampshire Legal Assistance.)

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