Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach
Measuring SNAP participation and utilization among likely income eligible individuals in a timely and effective manner can be challenging. This is particularly true at the county level where relatively small populations make it difficult to establish reliable estimates. In addition, time delays in the availability of data limit our ability to measure current eligibility and participation. With that said, several SNAP participation indicators exist. No one indicator is a definitive measure of real-time participation and each has its own set of limitations. Nonetheless, when considered together, these participation indicators help paint a picture of Colorado and Boulder County’s performance.
Currently, two indicators of SNAP participation are available:
The SNAP participation rate is the percentage of eligible people who actually participate in the program. The complex methodology applies SNAP eligibility rules and only includes people that are eligible and excludes undocumented individuals under 125% FPL, non-qualifying students etc. Because of the complexity in the calculation, 2015 information was released January 2018.
The Program Access Index (PAI) is one of the indicators the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) uses to measure States’ performance and award bonus payments. The PAI is designed to indicate the degree to which low-income people have access to SNAP benefits. PAI does not measure those likely eligible for SNAP, but was the easiest measure for the 2002 Farm Bill. USDA suggests the use of SNAP Participation Rate (1) as a better measure of who is eligible for the program. The most recent PAI information is for 2016 and was released February 2018.
The State of Colorado is working on developing a more real time and accurate measure for counties.
This document presents an overview comparison of the methodology used to calculate each participation indicator.