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How Does SNAP Serve as a “Right to Food?”

AAEA member Gundersen releases new research in AJAE

The Supplemental Nutrtion Assistance Progam (SNAP) is the most critical component of the social safety against hunger in the U.S. and, in this role, it has proved to be enormously successful.  In recent years, however, there have been several proposals to make changes to SNAP that would limit the ability of SNAP to effectively secure a "right to food" for all Americans.

In a new article released in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, “The Right to Food in the U.S.:  The Role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)” Craig Gundersen from the University of Illinois and Managing Editor of the Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, examines how the construction of SNAP is consistent with the central goals one seeks to achieve with a “right to food.”  These goals include things such as reaching those most in need and assuring the dignity and autonomy of recipients.

Gundersen says, “Currently, in the U.S., there is not a formally defined "right to food" and, for various reasons, that is probably for the best.  However, it remains a central goal of USDA to reduce food insecurity (i.e., provide a "right to food") and extensive research, especially in AJAE, has shown that , SNAP has  been successful in helping to meet this goal.  Given this success, the U.S. should be leery of any changes to the program which would reduce its effectiveness. ”

If you are interested in setting up an interview with Gundersen, please contact Allison Scheetz in the AAEA Business Office.

ABOUT AAEA: Established in 1910, the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA) is the leading professional association for agricultural and applied economists, with 2,500 members in more than 60 countries. Members of the AAEA work in academic or government institutions as well as in industry and not-for-profit organizations, and engage in a variety of research, teaching, and outreach activities in the areas of agriculture, the environment, food, health, and international development. The AAEA publishes two journals, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics and Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy, as well as the online magazine Choices and the online open access publication series Applied Economics Teaching Resources. To learn more, visit

Contact: Allison Scheetz
Senior Communications Manager
(414) 918-3190