Are Heat and Eat Policies Affecting SNAP Household Participation?

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Virginia Tech

In the U.S., states vary in the way they link the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). State practices that have come to be known as "Heat and Eat" (HandE) exploit a SNAP energy expense deduction in order to increase SNAP benefits. Sixteen states have used the practice at some point, with the earliest starting in 1995 and latest in 2013. This study uses variation in the timing of adoption of HandE across states to estimate the HandE's effect on SNAP participation. SNAP-LIHEAP participation links are also examined in relation to alternative state policies that bundle application costs. Using SIPP 2008 Panel data, the study employs a household fixed effects model to examine the impact of LIHEAP participation and the three SNAP-LIHEAP bundling policies on SNAP participation propensities. The results indicate that HandE policies cause a small increase in household SNAP participation, which is likely due to the fact that HandE provides additional benefits for SNAP participants. Categorical eligibility that links applications for both programs also generates higher differential probabilities of being on SNAP. These results are consistent with previous findings in the multiple program participation literature.

SNAP, LIHEAP, Household Participation, Heat and Eat