Tory Mascuilli, Psychology (MA)
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dan Hart
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly funding to low-income participants to buy food. Research has shown that this supplemental assistance is insufficient to cover an entire month’s needs, leading to a period of time referred to as the “SNAP gap,” during which benefits have been depleted. Food insecurity, amplified by the exhaustion of SNAP benefits, may increase negative emotions, which may be detected at the community level. The current study examined the possibility that as food insecurity increased over the course of a month as SNAP benefits were exhausted in areas heavily dependent on SNAP so too would negative affect measured at the level of the community. To test for this effect, tweets were collected from each of the 21 county seats of New Jersey, and coded for emotion words. Negative affect words peaked during the SNAP gap. The effect was more pronounced in communities with higher levels of poverty. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.