Food stamp benefits will be raised more than 25% in October in program’s biggest increase ever

The Biden administration has OKed the largest single increase in food stamp assistance available to needy families in what’s now called the SNAP program.

SHARE Food stamp benefits will be raised more than 25% in October in program’s biggest increase ever
A supermarket displays stickers indicating it accepts food stamps.

A supermarket displays stickers indicating it accepts food stamps.

Seth Wenig / AP

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s administration has approved a significant and permanent increase in the levels of food aid available to needy families — the largest single increase in the program’s history.

Starting in October, average benefits for food stamps — formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — will rise more than 25% above pre-pandemic levels. The increased assistance will be available indefinitely to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, “A lot of people who thought they’d never take part in the SNAP program found themselves in need,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “The pandemic sort of shocked people out of the belief that this was a program for someone else.”

The increase in the amount of food aid that will be available coincides with the end of a 15% boost in SNAP benefits that was ordered as a pandemic protection measure. That benefit expires at the end of September.

The aid boost is being packaged a major revision to the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which estimates the cost to purchase groceries for a family of four and guides the way the government calculates benefits. In practical terms, the average monthly per-person benefits for qualified recipients will rise from $121 to $157.

Activists say the previous levels of pre-pandemic SNAP assistance weren’t enough, forcing many to choose cheaper, less nutritious options or go hungry as money ran low toward the end of the month.

Joel Berg, chief executive officer of Hunger Free America, called the increase in benefits “a huge victory in the fight against hunger and for the tens of millions of Americans facing food insecurity.”

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