California Continues to Improve SNAP Participation Rates


In February, the USDA-FNS released its annual estimate of SNAP Participation in its report, “Reaching Those in Need: Estimates of State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Participation Rates in 2013.”  In California, estimates continue to increase every year; for FY 2013, the estimated rate is 66 percent. This percentage reflects yet another year of growth in our state’s participation rate, which has increased by fifteen percentage points since fiscal year 2010.

The state estimate remains lower than the national average. Nationally, an estimated 85 percent of eligible people participated in SNAP in fiscal year 2013. 

California is unique among states, with its SSI cash-out policy still in place (which provides an additional payment for food to SSI recipients, making them ineligible to receive CalFresh) and its large undocumented population who are also ineligible to participate but who remain in the calculation. For the first time in 2013, this report attempts to account for ineligible SSI recipients in California, reducing the population of eligible Californians used in the estimate by about 700,000. While this certainly makes the estimate of participation more accurate, given the age of the data (more than three years old) the rate still does not reflect the impact of major policy changes that have been implemented – Semi-Annual Reporting being the most significant, as well as ongoing business process modernization and continued local partnerships with Food Banks and other community based organizations for outreach and application assistance.    

As a state, we are proud of our steady progress toward ensuring that eligible Californians have access to the benefits for which they are eligible.

Download the report