SNAP Take-up and Targeting

Rigorous research shows that targeted outreach and application assistance triples Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment among people ages 60 and over.

The randomized experiment involving more than 30,000 seniors in Pennsylvania found that:

  • Informing seniors that they are likely eligible for SNAP and offering BDT’s assistance filling out the application over the phone tripled enrollment compared to a control group (18 percent vs. 6 percent)
    • Providing information alone increased SNAP participation by 81 percent (11 percent vs. 6 percent)
  • Seniors enrolled through the intervention were eligible for an average of $1,300 in SNAP assistance per year

The study was conducted by Benefits Data Trust (BDT) and economists at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). It was funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


  1. Targeted Outreach and Application Assistance Triples SNAP Enrollment Among Seniors: Research Shows SNAP Enrollment Could Reduce Healthcare Costs by $10 Billion a Year
  2. Take-up and Targeting: Experimental Evidence from SNAP. Amy Finkelstein, Matthew Notowidigdo. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 134, Issue 3, August 2019, Pages 1505-1556.