Composed of over 40 individuals from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, the Houston SNAP Task Force was convened by Houston Food Bank, Food Research & Action Center, and The Food Trust, and co-chaired by Houston Food Bank and CHILDREN AT RISK. The Houston SNAP Task Force is proud to present Closing the SNAP Gap: Recommendations to Prevent Hunger & Strengthen SNAP in Houston. This report includes insights from representatives from state and local government and private & non-profit leaders from community development, health, grocery, education, civic and anti-hunger sectors, and people with direct experience with SNAP. Feedback and advice were also obtained through focus groups comprised of a diverse set of low-income Houstonians.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as “food stamps,” is the nation’s first line of defense against poverty and hunger, and has been proven to be an effective, efficient source of temporary assistance for families in need. Not only does SNAP help lift families out of poverty, but every federally funded SNAP dollar generates $1.79 in economic activity, supporting farmers, food producers, food retailers, and other businesses, and creating jobs in the Houston area. Those resources are used to purchase food at SNAP authorized grocery stores, convenience stores, community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares, military commissaries, and other outlets.

In 2016, SNAP served an average of 672,219 persons in Houston, bringing in $979,841,468 of federally funded benefits that in turn generated $1,753,916,228 in economic activity. SNAP’s contributions to Houstonians’ well-being could be bolstered by reaching the over 1 out of 5 people (22.3%) who are “eligible but not enrolled” (EBNE) in SNAP. The Houston SNAP gap leaves an estimated 193,551 Houstonians eligible for but not receiving SNAP benefits.

This means that each year, Houston has over $110 million of unclaimed SNAP benefits that could otherwise provide groceries for children, seniors and families who need help. Since every $1 of additional SNAP benefits generates $1.79 of economic impact, this is equivalent to a loss of nearly $197 million to grocery stores, farmers and other local food retail suppliers.