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Despite qualifying as income eligible, many Massachusetts families do not access SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. Due to the sharp increase in the cost of living, especially the cost of housing and food expenses, more families are facing food insecurity. Thus, it is critical to ensure that families in need receive SNAP benefits. While previous studies have examined racial disparities, there is a limited focus on Asian American families. Even fewer studies disaggregate data to explore disparities among Asian American ethnic subgroups. Further, few studies have addressed disparities in SNAP receipt specifically for income eligible families.

The purpose of this study was to identify racial disparities and disparities in SNAP receipt among Asian American subgroups for income eligible families. This study also explored the extent to which English fluency, immigration status, education level, and employment status determine recipience of SNAP benefits in Massachusetts. American Community Survey 5-year data (ACS 2016-2020) were used to analyze racial-ethnic disparities in receiving SNAP among income eligible families in Massachusetts (those with total incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)).

The results revealed that among families that are income eligible to receive SNAP benefits, Asian American and White families generally were not different in SNAP receipt. However, income eligible Asian American families with a bachelor’s degree were more likely than White families to receive SNAP. The interaction terms also indicated that even at different levels of education, income eligible Asian American families tend to be less likely to receive SNAP than Black and Hispanic families. The analysis of subgroups revealed that income eligible Cambodian families are more likely than income eligible Chinese families to receive SNAP. These results suggest the counterintuitive recommendation that policymakers should pay closer attention to Asian Americans with higher education levels, who may be reluctant to access SNAP benefits even when food insecure. The report concludes with additional implications for policy and directions for future research.

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