Energy density

The ratio of calories (energy) to total nutrients in a food. An energy-dense food has a high number of calories relative to its nutrient content.

Excess shelter deduction

The deduction received by households that spend 50 percent or more of their income on housing costs (e.g., rent/mortgage, taxes, interest, utilities) after other deductions have been calculated. The deduction was capped at $459 in fiscal year 2012 for households in the 48 contiguous states that do not contain an elderly or disabled member.

Food coupon

Any coupon, stamp, or type of certificate issued pursuant to the provisions of the Food Stamp Act of 1964; its use was restricted to purchases of food (no tobacco or alcohol products) from retail food stores approved for participation in the Food Stamp Program. The Electronic Benefit Transfer card has replaced food coupons.

Food desert

Defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service as a low-income census tract with a substantial number or share of residents with low levels of access to retail outlets selling healthy and affordable foods.

Food Security Supplement

A national survey of a sample of households derived from those eligible for the basic Current Population Survey (CPS). Its purpose is to obtain information about household food expenditures, food program participation, food sufficiency, ways of coping with food insecurity, and concerns about food security.

Gross income

A household’s total monthly income before deductions are applied.

Gross income limit

An amount of monthly gross income below which households are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, determined by household size. The limit must be equal to or less than 130 percent of the national poverty threshold.

Healthy Eating Index (HEI)

A measure of diet quality that assesses conformance to federal dietary guidance.

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