SNAP Recency and Educational Outcomes
38 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2015 Last revised: 15 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 13, 2015
The largest food assistance program in the U.S. and an important part of the U.S. safety net, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides cash-like benefits to low-income individuals and families to use only for purchasing food. Understanding how SNAP benefit receipt affects children and families is crucial to both research and policy efforts aimed at supporting the healthy development of low-income children. This paper links the timing of SNAP benefit receipt to children’s end-of-grade (EOG) achievement test scores in North Carolina (NC). Using administrative data from the NC Departments of Public Instruction and Health and Human Services, we analyze the recency of SNAP benefit transfer and children’s test scores for over 148,000 SNAP-receiving public school students. Results indicate differences in students’ EOG performance in both reading and math based on the recency of SNAP benefit transfer. Although the relationship is stronger for reading than for math, the relationship between students’ test scores and SNAP receipt appears to be roughly curvilinear. Test scores peak in the third week following benefit transfer.
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