Report shows thousands of workers in Tennessee receive federal food assistance

Tennessee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A study by a bipartisan federal group shows that many major employers across the nation — including some in Memphis — have millions of full-time workers who receive federal food and healthcare assistance.

The study, released this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, was commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) in February, just prior to the pandemic.

SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the program sometimes called “food stamps.”

In Tennessee, according to the study, there were 847,694 recipients of benefits from SNAP. Of these, 94,378 were working adults.

Tennessee employers with the largest number of employees receiving these benefits were Walmart (with an estimated 1,469 employees receiving SNAP) and McDonald’s (1,178). These employers took the top spots in most states surveyed by the study.

At the No. 3 spot was Memphis-based FedEx, which GAO said had 882 workers receiving benefits, about 1% of the state’s total recipients among working adults. Amazon, which has been expanding in Tennessee and the Memphis area, was No. 6 with an estimated 570 employees.

No. 20 in the state of Tennessee was Shelby County Schools, which the report said employed 242 people receiving SNAP benefits.

In Arkansas, Walmart employs 1,318 people receiving SNAP benefits, the study said. The company was founded in Arkansas and maintains its headquarters in Bentonville.

The GAO said overall participation in SNAP generally declined between fiscal years 2015 and 2019, but rose again in April 2020.

Information on Medicaid recipients was listed for several states, but none in the Mid-South.

The complete report can be seen here. Tennessee data begins on Page 68.

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