Women, particularly women of color, women with disabilities, older women, LGBTQ individuals, and immigrant women, disproportionately face economic insecurity. In general, women of color face both gender and racial discrimination in hiring and wages. Women are overrepresented in the low-paid workforce and in sectors that are consistently devalued, such as domestic and care work. Overall, women make up 64 percent of the workforce in the 40 lowest paying jobs. In addition to inadequate pay, these jobs often have unpredictable schedules and few worker protections, limiting access to vital benefits such as paid family and medical leave. These long-standing structural inequities inhibit economic mobility for women, making them more susceptible to food insecurity. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the gender and racial inequities in economic security for women and their families, and even more for women of color. 

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is a critical program in providing women, children, and families with the food assistance needed to better support their wellbeing. However, even with its extensive reach, critical gaps still exist in the adequacy and administration of SNAP for a multitude of women, especially women facing multiple forms of discrimination. Additionally, the attacks on SNAP in recent years have demonstrated just how much work we have left to make sure it can serve all women, children, and families whose circumstances make it hard to put food on their table. 

This issue brief discusses the following: 

  • SNAP participation rates for women, children, and families 
  • SNAP’s impacts on the health and education of women, children, and families, as well as the economy 
  • Barriers to SNAP eligibility and access generally, as well as specific barriers for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)undocumented and immigrant families, formerly incarcerated individuals, LGBTQ people, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, people with disabilities, older adults, and young people and college students