FIGURE 2-4 Trends in nominal and real SNAP expenditures, 1969-2011.
SOURCES: FNS, 2012a; GPO, 2012.

nominal growth.35 In the last decade, nominal spending (fixed value or price) rose 342 percent, while real spending (change in value or price over time) increased almost 250 percent, such that by FY 2011, program costs were in excess of $75 billion, making SNAP one of the largest programs in the social safety net. Although total costs have grown rapidly, inflation-adjusted per-recipient benefits changed little over the past three decades until the increases under the ARRA were instituted.36


A central goal of SNAP is to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by increasing resources for the purchase of food for a nutritious diet. In 1995, USDA began monitoring food security (see Box 2-3) by means of the annual Food Security Supplement to the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS),


35Inflation is measured using the chain-weighted personal consumption expenditure deflator with 2011 base year.

36Public Law 111-5.

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