Brandonrush (Creative Commons)

Marketplace and Slate 
examine the business side of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and find, not surprisingly, that the funds are a significant part of big box store’s business models. 

… last month, when Walmart released its annual report, it listed among the potential risks facing the company “changes in the amount of payments made under the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Plan [sic].” Namely, the $8 billion in cuts to SNAP that Congress passed earlier this year.

At a private dinner Walmart held for market analysts last fall in Bentonville, Ark., a company vice president estimated Walmart takes in 18 percent of all food stamp spending in the U.S., a number Walmart’s David Tovar confirmed when I interviewed him. Meaning, Walmart took in more than $13 billion in revenue, or about 4 percent of Walmart’s total sales in the U.S.

For now, we don’t know exactly how much SNAP money Walmart receives or how the money is spent in particular stores. Corporations like Walmart claim the information is proprietary, and the USDA won’t release the data because of a 40-year-old provision that prevents the government from sharing “relevant income and sales tax filing documents” that a company might submit to the government while applying to be part of the SNAP program.


A South Dakota newspaper that filed a FOIA on SNAP spending is fighting the USDA in court. A federal appeals judge has sided with the paper and sent the case to a lower court.