Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

SNAP is the nation’s – and our state’s – most important and effective anti-hunger program. It has grown when Arkansans needed it to, most recently when the pandemic and its economic crisis were at their worst. In Fiscal 2021, about 1 in 9 Arkansas residents (346,200) were helped by SNAP. Almost 74% of Arkansas SNAP participants were in families with children. Almost 41% were in families with older adults or a person with a disability. More than 42% were in working families. About half of participants had incomes at or below the poverty line.

See AACF’s SNAP Priorities for the Farm Bill

SNAP and the Workforce

Most SNAP participants who can work, do so. Among SNAP households with children and at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, three-quarters work while receiving SNAP. And almost 90% worked in the year prior to, or the year after, receiving SNAP. This data reflects that joblessness is often a temporary condition for SNAP participants. 

Many SNAP participants are essential frontline workers. The jobs most common among SNAP participants include jobs like cashiers, cooks, or home health aides. These jobs typically pay low wages, have schedules that change frequently with little input from the worker, and don’t offer benefits like paid sick leave. SNAP benefits supplement low wages to help workers better afford food, and can help workers if they lose a job, providing the support they need to find work again. Prior to the pandemic (in 2017), in Arkansas, these were the most commons jobs for working Arkansans participating in SNAP:

  • 6,900 cashiers – about 1 in 4 – participated in SNAP while working.
  • 6,800 nursing, psychiatric and home health aides – about 1 in 3 – participated in SNAP while working.
  • 5,500 cooks – about 1 in 4 – participated in SNAP while working.
  • 3,800 hand laborers and freight, stock, and material movers – about 1 in 5 – participated in SNAP while working.