comparison with the income eligibility guidelines. The SNAP QC-based eligibility is from applications made in fiscal year 2009, so the data reflect the participant’s situation in that year.

For the ACS data, eligibility is based on “povpip.”3 Povpip is based on annual income as reported on a survey form completed during 2009, adjusted to represent income data in 2009 and compared with the 2009 poverty guidelines. A survey completed in January 2009 would reflect data on income received mainly during 2008 (representing income from the same day in January 2008 through the survey day in January 2009).4 A survey completed in December 2009 would reflect income from the survey date in December 2008 through the survey date in December 2009. Thus there is about a half-year lag in the ACS income data relative to the SNAP QC income data.5 Additionally, as discussed later in this appendix, if monthly income is variable, using annual income smooths over periods of high and low income and may understate income eligibility for the school meals programs.

Similarly, the ACS question on SNAP participation asks whether anyone in the household received food stamp benefits during the last 12 months. Individuals in a household that received SNAP benefits in 2008 could still have been eligible in 2009. However, it is also possible that their situation changed and that they were no longer eligible in 2009. Under the school meals programs, if a household is determined to be eligible for school meals because of SNAP participation or income, a student in that household remains eligible for school meals for the rest of the school year and for 1 month into the next.

The tables provided to the panel compared ACS and SNAP QC estimates of number of households with SNAP benefits, number of households with SNAP benefits with children aged 5-17, number of individuals with SNAP benefits, and number of individuals aged 5-17 with SNAP benefits.


3 Povpip is the ratio of income to the poverty threshold computed by the Census Bureau and made available in its data products. For family members, it is the ratio of family income to the appropriate poverty threshold. For unrelated individuals, it is personal income compared with the one-person poverty threshold. It is not defined for unrelated individuals under age 15 because income data are not collected for these individuals. It is not defined for some GQ individuals. If povpip is not defined, the person is classified as eligible for free meals.

4 Instructions state that the respondent is to report his or her income during the last 12 months and explains that this means “from today’s date one year ago through today.” However, it would be surprising if people know their income by such specific time periods.

5 ACS income are adjusted using the Consumer Price Index to reflect calendar year 2009 dollars.

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