Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



States have always been crucial to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Even though the federal government has paid virtually all the program’s benefit costs, state administration has always been indispensable for several reasons. State and local governments pay their staff considerably less than the federal government, making state administration less expensive. States already administer other important antipoverty programs, notably family cash assistance and Medicaid, allowing them to coordinate the programs and minimize repetitive activities. And states have somewhat lower, and less polarizing, political footprints than does the federal government, moderating criticism of the program. In addition, giving states a stake in SNAP’s administration often has co-opted them to support, or at least avoid attacking, the program.

Publication Citation

David A. Super, States’ Evolving Role in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, in Holes in the Safety Net: Federalism and Poverty (Ezra Rosser ed., Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press 2019)