Financial Self-Sufficiency
People Receiving SNAP

People Receiving SNAP

What does this measure?

The share of people, including both adults and children, receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly called food stamps.

Why is this important?

SNAP provides restricted government funding for low-income people that can only be used to buy food. It therefore is an indication of how many people in a region rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs.

How is our county performing?

In 2015, 15.4% of Berks County residents received SNAP benefits, slightly higher than the percentages at the state and national levels, which were roughly 14%. The percentage in Berks represented a threefold increase since 2000. The percentage increased steadily from 2000 to 2011 and then leveled out. The state had a smaller increase during the same period, rising from 6.1% in 2000 to 14.1% in 2011.

Among surrounding counties in 2015, smaller percentages of residents received SNAP benefits in Chester (5.0%), Lancaster (10.3%), Lebanon (12.6%) and Montgomery (6.8%). Schuylkill and Lehigh were similar to Berks. The percentage rose in all counties since 2000. While Lehigh, Lebanon, and Schuylkill had increases similar to Berks, the increases elsewhere were smaller, particularly in Chester (4 percentage points) and Montgomery (5 percentage points).

Notes about the data

Participation counts at the county level are provided primarily by the Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates program of the U.S. Census Bureau, which obtains raw data from the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA. For most states, the Census Bureau uses counts of participants for the month of July, although some states can provide data only for other reference periods.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

People Receiving SNAP
United States6.1%6.5%7.1%8.0%8.6%8.8%8.8%9.1%10.4%12.6%14.2%14.8%15.1%14.8%14.4%13.9%
Berks County4.9%5.2%5.7%7.1%8.1%8.7%9.4%9.9%10.9%13.0%14.3%15.4%15.2%15.2%15.1%15.4%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County1.4%1.4%1.4%1.7%2.1%2.2%2.3%2.4%2.7%3.4%3.9%4.6%4.9%5.0%5.0%5.0%
Lancaster County2.4%2.7%3.2%4.2%5.2%5.8%6.2%5.8%6.3%8.2%9.8%10.7%10.6%10.4%10.3%10.3%
Lebanon County3.3%3.3%3.9%4.7%5.6%6.4%6.6%6.8%7.8%10.0%11.6%12.5%12.7%12.7%12.4%12.6%
Lehigh County4.0%4.3%5.0%6.3%7.3%8.0%8.5%9.3%10.3%11.4%12.7%13.7%13.2%14.1%14.3%14.7%
Montgomery County1.4%1.5%1.6%1.9%2.4%2.6%2.6%2.9%3.3%4.2%4.9%5.7%6.0%6.3%6.5%6.8%
Schuylkill County4.5%4.7%4.9%5.9%6.7%7.1%7.8%8.4%9.9%12.1%14.1%15.2%15.2%14.8%15.2%15.8%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Number of People Receiving SNAP
United States17,064,92518,566,15320,517,17023,179,40425,108,13726,008,16326,242,24827,547,12331,624,84438,701,17643,718,80446,139,78047,396,67346,732,61845,916,58444,567,069
Berks County18,14519,52621,88227,51131,75334,64237,75739,99144,30153,26458,84763,45762,75662,99962,71463,741
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County5,9476,1086,4937,7829,50110,36711,08911,75913,06216,89019,42623,32824,87325,47425,47925,695
Lancaster County11,44012,67915,59620,39725,68228,90631,11629,51532,32442,36250,85855,87355,83355,34555,01955,247
Lebanon County3,9584,0064,8005,8457,0188,0618,5088,89210,28013,29015,47316,82717,20517,25816,96317,288
Lehigh County12,42913,49215,87920,15723,65526,48728,74531,86735,51639,54544,25948,32046,81050,20151,14153,021
Montgomery County10,82411,02212,14815,04718,28820,21720,55522,57425,74233,40139,50946,07548,87251,23353,08555,674
Schuylkill County6,7466,9727,2478,7169,80710,43111,58812,40514,66918,01020,92222,38722,31821,74522,18622,763

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Vacant Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing