Participation in Food Assistance by Race/Ethnicity
What does this measure?
The proportion of households broken out by race and ethnicity that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
Why is this important?
The SNAP program provides government funding for low-income people to buy food. It therefore indicates how many people in a region cannot support themselves at a basic level.
How is our county doing?
In 2010-14, 43% of Hispanic residents and 30% of African American residents participated in SNAP compared to 10% of white residents. These rates were similar to the state and nation, except for Hispanic households (the national rate was 22%). Within Essex County, the cities of Lawrence and Lynn had some of the highest participation rates - 51% and 40%, respectively - among Hispanic residents.
How do we compare to similar counties?
Comparable counties had the same basic disparities among racial and ethnic groups. Essex County had a higher SNAP participation rate for Hispanic residents than did Middlesex, MA (24%), Lake, IL (20%) and Westchester (18%).
Notes about the data
The Census Bureau asks people to identify their race (white, African American, etc.) separate from their ethnicity (Hispanic or non-Hispanic). So the totals for these categories cannot be added together, as people show up in both a racial and ethnic group.
The multiyear figures are from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. The bureau combined five years of responses to the survey to provide estimates for smaller geographic areas and increase the precision of its estimates. However, because the information came from a survey, the samples responding to the survey were not always large enough to produce reliable results, especially in small geographic areas. CGR has noted on data tables the estimates with relatively large margins of error. Estimates with three asterisks have the largest margins, plus or minus 50% or more of the estimate. Two asterisks mean plus or minus 35%-50%, and one asterisk means plus or minus 20%-35%. For all estimates, the confidence level is 90%, meaning there is 90% probability the true value (if the whole population were surveyed) would be within the margin of error (or confidence interval). The survey provides data on characteristics of the population that used to be collected only during the decennial census.