City in Each State With the Most People on Food Stamps

The Biden Administration and House Republicans recently reached a bi-partisan deal to raise the debt ceiling. To reach the compromise, and keep the United States from a catastrophic debt default, the White House agreed to a series of spending cuts to social safety net programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. (Here is a look at the American presidents who added the most to the national debt.) 

SNAP is a federal program designed to help needy families and households afford food. The debt-ceiling deal includes considerable changes to SNAP eligibility.  

While the new rules would expand access to SNAP for veteran and homeless populations, it would also increase work requirements for certain populations. Under the current law, able-bodied adults aged 49 or younger who do not care for young children are required to work at least 80 hours a month to be eligible for SNAP. The new law would raise the work requirement age to 54. 

According to the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, more than 15.8 million American households — or 12.4% of all households — received SNAP benefits in 2021. And in some parts of the country, the share of the population who depend on SNAP is far higher. Exactly how many Americans would be directly impacted if the latest eligibility changes are passed remains to be seen. 

Using 2021 metro area level data from the ACS, 24/7 Wall St. identified the city in each state with the most people on food stamps. Metro areas within each state are ranked by the share of households who received SNAP benefits in 2021. With the exception of Wyoming, every state had at least one metro area with available data. In the states with only one metro area, the city listed ranks as having the highest SNAP recipiency rate by default only. These are noted.

SNAP eligibility is ultimately based on levels of need, and as a result, the cities on this list tend to have higher than average poverty rates. Of the 49 metro areas on this list, all but 10 have a higher poverty rate than the state as a whole – and the higher poverty is likely due in part to limited employment opportunities, as most of these same cities have a higher unemployment rate than statewide average. (Here is a look at the city with the poorest middle class in each state.) 

Click here to see the city in each state with the most people on food stamps.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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