Treatment Plan for Hunger: SNAP, WIC, and the Community Eligibility Provision

About the What If? Series

Through the What If Project, Children’s HealthWatch is providing real and specific models of better policy futures, working toward our vision of a future where all children’s basic needs are met, sustaining their health and enabling them to reach their potential. For this brief, Children’s HealthWatch asked, “What if we optimized key child nutrition programs to reduce food insecurity?”

Treatment Plan for Hunger: SNAP, WIC, and the Community Eligibility Provision

New research from Children’s HealthWatch uses innovative simulation modeling techniques to demonstrate that SNAP, WIC, and NSLP are key components of a treatment plan for food insecurity.

Summary of Findings:

  1. If SNAP benefits were increased by basing the calculation on the Low-Cost Food Plan, SNAP-participant families with children would have an 8% increase in purchasing power for food. This would result in 5.3% of currently food-insecure people in families with children becoming food secure.
  2. If WIC age-eligibility were increased to age 6, 2.2% of newly eligible 5-year-olds’ families would increase their food purchasing power. This change would result in 1.5% of WIC-eligible food-insecure 5-year-olds and their families becoming food secure.
  3. Through school meal programs, 13.4% and 13.1% of all children whose family food purchasing power was increased by their participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP), respectively, shifted into a higher income-to-poverty-ratio category. This resulted in 1.7% of food-insecure families of students participating in NSLP and 1% of food-insecure families of students participating in SBP to become fully food secure in 2014.

Recommended Policy Solutions:

  1. Increase the SNAP benefit to reflect the real cost of a healthy diet
  2. Expand WIC age eligibility to age 6 to ensure continuity of care
  3. Ensure high-poverty school districts provide low-income children with healthy meals through the Community Eligibility Provision

Additional information

SNAP simulation modelling

WIC simulation modelling

School Meals modelling