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 2016, 15% of Berks County residents received SNAP benefits, slightly higher than the percentages at the state and national levels, which were roughly 13% and 14% respectively. The percentage in Berks represented a 10 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 2016, smaller percentages of residents received SNAP benefits in Chester (5.0%), Lancaster (10%), Lebanon (12%) and Montgomery (6.4%). 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%13.2%
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%15.3%15.0%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%
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%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Number of People Receiving SNAP
United States17,064,92518,566,15320,517,17023,179,40425,108,13726,008,16326,242,24827,547,12331,624,84438,701,17643,718,80446,139,78047,396,67346,732,61845,916,58444,567,06942,557,695
Berks County18,14519,52621,88227,51131,75334,64237,75739,99144,30153,26458,84763,45762,75662,99962,71463,74162,428
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County5,9476,1086,4937,7829,50110,36711,08911,75913,06216,89019,42623,32824,87325,47425,47925,69525,733
Lancaster County11,44012,67915,59620,39725,68228,90631,11629,51532,32442,36250,85855,87355,83355,34555,01955,24754,230
Lebanon County3,9584,0064,8005,8457,0188,0618,5088,89210,28013,29015,47316,82717,20517,25816,96317,28817,187
Lehigh County12,42913,49215,87920,15723,65526,48728,74531,86735,51639,54544,25948,32046,81050,20151,14153,02153,342
Montgomery County10,82411,02212,14815,04718,28820,21720,55522,57425,74233,40139,50946,07548,87251,23353,08555,67452,620
Schuylkill County6,7466,9727,2478,7169,80710,43111,58812,40514,66918,01020,92222,38722,31821,74522,18622,76322,982

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Decreasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population ratio Increasing
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 Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
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 Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing