SNAP Trends in Cuyahoga County

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as food stamps, offers useful insight into local poverty and well-being trends. Thanks to recent updates to the NEO CANDO 2010+ data system, we can look at SNAP usage trends for Cuyahoga County municipalities and Cleveland neighborhoods from 2010 through 2014, illustrated in the interactive chart below.

The chart below shows how the number of SNAP recipients per 1,000 people has changed since the beginning of 2010, relative to January 2010. Meaning, for each region, the trend represents the percent change in SNAP usage as compared to January 2010. Cleveland neighborhoods are shown in blue; cities and villages in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland withheld) are shown in green. Trend lines for Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland are included in the chart as labeled, dashed lines.

As can be seen in the chart, since the first quarter of 2010, the usage of SNAP benefits has increased in both Cleveland and its suburbs, with the increase being more pronounced in the suburbs than the city itself. There are a number of reasons that may contribute to this, such as: a previously lower number of people receiving SNAP benefits in the suburbs (allowing for a greater potential increase with each new case) and a nationwide suburbanization of poverty, as covered in The Atlantic, Time, and Washington Post.

In Cleveland, the Detroit-Shoreway, Tremont, Ohio City, Central and University Circle neighborhoods exhibit some of the lowest changes in rate of SNAP benefits, some lowering their SNAP usage rate. This could be a result of SNAP users increasing their economic status or relocating to other areas, or an influx of non-SNAP users to the neighborhood.

Neighborhoods like Old Brooklyn and Brookpark experienced some of the highest growth in SNAP usage per 1,000 for neighborhoods in Cleveland, although their SNAP usage overall is still among the lowest of Cleveland neighborhoods. While the suburbs outpace the city in rate of growth of SNAP recipients per 1,000, inner ring suburbs like Lakewood and Shaker Heights, and to a lesser extent South Euclid and Cleveland Heights had slower growth than many cities, like Fairview, Richmond Heights, and Brooklyn.

This data visualization raises a number of questions pertaining to poverty and well-being in Cleveland neighborhoods and suburbs that are explored by the Poverty Center. Follow our work on our website for the latest information.

Data Calculation Note: data was filtered for neighborhoods and cities with more than 5,000 residents and 50 SNAP recipients per 1,000 residents in Q1 2010. Population estimates were used from 2010 and held constant over the time period. All data accessed through NEO CANDO and can be downloaded here. More information about this methodology can be found here. Code for the data visualization is found here.