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 2018, 14% of Berks County residents received SNAP benefits, slightly higher than the percentages at the state and national levels, which were roughly 14% and 12% respectively. The percentage in Berks represented a 9 point 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% in 2011.

Among surrounding counties in 2018, smaller percentages of residents received SNAP benefits in Chester (4.6%), Montgomery ( 6.1%), Lancaster (9%), and Lebanon (11.5%). Lehigh was similar to Berks and Schuylkill was slightly higher than Berks. The percentage rose in all counties since 2000. While Lehigh and Schuylkill had increases similar to Berks, the increases elsewhere were smaller, particularly in Chester (3 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%13.2%12.5%11.7%
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%15.0%14.7%14.1%
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%5.0%4.9%4.6%
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%10.1%9.6%9.0%
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%12.4%12.0%11.5%
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%14.7%14.6%14.8%
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%6.4%6.2%6.1%
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%15.3%15.8%16.0%16.3%15.6%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Number of People Receiving SNAP
United States17,064,92518,566,15320,517,17023,179,40425,108,13726,008,16326,242,24827,547,12331,624,84438,701,17643,718,80446,139,78047,396,67346,732,61845,916,58444,567,06942,557,69540,771,68838,343,162
Berks County18,14519,52621,88227,51131,75334,64237,75739,99144,30153,26458,84763,45762,75662,99962,71463,74162,42861,29759,448
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County5,9476,1086,4937,7829,50110,36711,08911,75913,06216,89019,42623,32824,87325,47425,47925,69525,73325,29524,191
Lancaster County11,44012,67915,59620,39725,68228,90631,11629,51532,32442,36250,85855,87355,83355,34555,01955,24754,23051,74849,073
Lebanon County3,9584,0064,8005,8457,0188,0618,5088,89210,28013,29015,47316,82717,20517,25816,96317,28817,18716,72416,230
Lehigh County12,42913,49215,87920,15723,65526,48728,74531,86735,51639,54544,25948,32046,81050,20151,14153,02153,34253,40754,353
Montgomery County10,82411,02212,14815,04718,28820,21720,55522,57425,74233,40139,50946,07548,87251,23353,08555,67452,62051,09850,402
Schuylkill County6,7466,9727,2478,7169,80710,43111,58812,40514,66918,01020,92222,38722,31821,74522,18622,76322,98223,26122,121

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
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 Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Maintaining
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households by type Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Seniors Living Alone Maintaining
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
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 County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Receiving Supplemental Security Income Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Increasing
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Toxic Chemical Releases Decreasing
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing