Stephanie Potochnick, an assistant professor of public affairs and public health at the University of Missouri, sought to provide more information about Mexican immigrants’ access to food stamps and food in general. She used data from the U.S. Census’ 1995-2013 Current Population Survey to help gauge how the 2002 Farm Bill influenced food stamp participation among low-income Mexican immigrants, which she calls “the largest and most disadvantaged immigrant group.” Potochnick’s study sample includes almost 38,000 low-income households with children.
In Social Science Research, November 2016, in an article entitled, “Reversing welfare reform? Immigrant restoration efforts and food stamp receipt among Mexican immigrant families,” she was able to conclude the following:
- Among low-income households, Mexican immigrants were much less likely than U.S. native families to receive food stamps. On average, 17 percent of low-income “Mexican Mixed Citizen” households – households that were headed by a Mexican non-citizen but had members who were citizens – participated in the food stamp program. In comparison, 32 percent of low-income native U.S. households collected food stamps. One percent of low-income households comprised only of noncitizens born in Mexico received food stamps.
- After adoption of the 2002 Farm Bill, food stamp participation rose among Mexican immigrants, except those who were likely to be undocumented.
- Mexican immigrant households had higher unemployment rates than U.S. native households.
- Mexican immigrant households were larger than U.S. native households. For example, Mexican Mixed Citizen households had 4.85 people, on average, compared to 3.98 people in U.S. native households.
- Immigrant households were less educated. For example, in 49 percent of Mexican Mixed Citizen households, no one had finished high school. That was true for 13 percent of the U.S. native households included in the study.
- Households headed by a Mexican-born, naturalized U.S. citizen were least likely to report that they experienced food insecurity, or challenges accessing and paying for food, within the previous 12 months.
Incidentally, the U.S. Census has created an interactive map that provides a snapshot of SNAP participants – including race, work status and household income — for every congressional district.