7 States That Spend the Least Money on Food Stamps

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Food stamps are by no means a new concept, as the idea has been around for several decades in the United States. In the late 1930s, a type of food stamp program was created to help combat hunger and simultaneously help farmers.

A few decades later, the Food Stamp Act of 1964 was enacted to strengthen the agricultural economy while also providing better nutrition for low-income households. Since then, the legislation has changed over the years, but the overall purpose has remained pretty much the same.

Today, around 46.5 million people receive food stamps. Other nutrition assistance programs — like national school breakfast and lunch programs, child and adult care food programs, and USDA food donations — also benefit millions of people across the country.

During fiscal year 2014, the average food stamp benefit was roughly $125 per person per month, and slightly more than $70 billion in benefits were paid out. Of course, in some parts of the country, food stamp use is higher than in others.

We recently put together a list of states with the most people on food stamps. Relative to each state’s population, the District of Columbia, Mississippi, and New Mexico had the highest percentages of people on food stamps.

But we also wanted to find out which states have low food stamp use. Which states have the least number of people on food stamps, and which ones spend the smallest portion of that $70 billion?

States with the smallest number of people on food stamps

These are the states with the lowest food stamp use per capita. The nationwide average is around 14.5%, and as you can see, these states are well below that national benchmark.

State Population Number of people on food stamps Percentage of state’s population on food stamps Estimated annual cost of food stamp benefits to state
7. Minnesota 5,457,173 513,979 9.42% $763,197,138
6. Colorado 5,355,866 500,635 9.35% $743,382,899
5. Utah 2,942,902 227,229 7.72% $337,407,798
4. Nebraska 1,881,503 173,398 9.22% $257,475,222
3. New Hampshire 1,326,813 108,381 8.17% $160,932,779
2. North Dakota 739,482 53,034 7.17% $78,749,126
1. Wyoming 584,153 32,986 5.65% $48,980,252

Sources: USDA and Census Bureau

 States that spend the least money on food stamps

These are the states that spend the smallest portion of that $70 billion. Keep in mind, however, that many of these states have smaller populations. So although the cost of benefits in these states are lower, this does not necessarily represent high or low food stamp use.

State Estimated annual cost of food stamp benefits to state
7. Montana $182,133,896
6. New Hampshire $160,932,779
5. South Dakota $147,153,093
4. Vermont $129,964,122
3. Alaska $125,260,022
2. North Dakota $78,749,126
1. Wyoming $48,980,252

Sources: USDA and Census Bureau

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