TABLE 2-3 Distribution of SNAP Participants by Age Category Over Time

Fiscal Year Number of Participants in Thousands (% of caseload)
Preschool School Age Nonelderly Adults Elderly Adults
1997 4,046 (17.5) 7,825 (33.8) 9,385 (40.6) 1,834 (7.9)
2000 2,846 (16.7) 5,919 (34.6) 6,623 (38.7) 1,702 (10.0)
2003 3,541 (16.9) 7,087 (33.9) 8,514 (40.7) 1,788 (8.5)
2006 4,243 (16.6) 8,361 (32.7) 10,763 (42.1) 2,229 (8.7)
2009 6,317 (15.9) 12,199 (30.7) 18,121 (45.6) 3,121 (7.9)

NOTE: FY = fiscal year.
SOURCES: FNS, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011.

TABLE 2-4 Distribution of Participants by Benefit Amount, Household Size, and Takeup Rate Over Time

Household Characteristic FY 1997 FY 2000 FY 2003 FY 2006 FY 2009
Percent of SNAP households receiving maximum benefit 22.7 20.2 25.9 32.1 37.4
Mean household size 2.4 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.2
Percent of SNAP-eligible population receiving any benefit 64.0 56.7 56.4 68.9 72.2
Dollar value of average benefit per person per meala 0.78 0.80 0.92 1.03 1.37
Fraction of households with earnings 24.2 27.2 28.2 29.7 29.4

NOTE: FY = fiscal year.

aCalculated as average monthly benefit (based on aggregate program participation data) per person, divided by 91.5 meals/month.
SOURCES: Cody and Castner, 1999; Cunnyngham, 2001; Cunnyngham and Brown, 2004; Leftin et al., 2011; Wolkwitz, 2007.

households received 91 percent of the total benefits, in dollar terms, of the amount that would have been spent if the takeup rate were 100 percent (Leftin et al., 2011).

Program costs for SNAP are almost entirely in the form of benefits and are covered by the federal government, the exception being for a small portion of administrative expenses paid for by state governments. Figure 2-4 demonstrates that program outlays have increased in lockstep with participation and that the growth in inflation-adjusted spending differs little from



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