SummaryA central goal of the US Department of Agriculture is to reduce food insecurity among the US population. This is pursued both by agricultural policies that focus on food supply and, arguably of greater importance, through food and nutrition programmes. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is the largest in terms of the number of participants and annual expenditure. SNAP is particularly well‐suited to alleviating food insecurity insofar as it is designed to target those most in need, is flexible enough to address geographical variations in food insecurity, has the ability to expand in times of increased need, such as economic downturns, and gives recipients the dignity and autonomy to make their own food choices. Due to its size – about US$ 70 billion in expenditures per year – the programme has generated proposals to impose direct and indirect restrictions on recipients in order to reduce expenditure. These proposals include removing the ability of states to set higher income thresholds for eligibility, imposing work requirements, and curtailing the food choices of recipients. In contrast, other proposals would build on the perceived successes of SNAP both to expand the number of recipients and to increase benefit levels.

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