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The USDA will permanently up food stamp benefits by 25%, pay-outs to rise from $121 to $157

In a long-due update, the Biden administration approved an increase to SNAP as part of a major revision of the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan.

The USDA will permanently up food stamp benefits by 25%, pay-outs to rise from $121 to $157
Image Source: Advocates For New Yorkers In Need Demand More Money in Budget For Food Assistance. NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Starting October this year, food benefits as part of the United States Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be upped more than 25 percent above pre-pandemic levels. The Biden Administration approved the boost, the largest single increase in the history of the food assistance program, in order to benefit families experiencing severe food insecurity. The benefits will be unconditionally applicable to all 42 million Americans who currently benefit from SNAP. The increase is part of a major revision of the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan. A formal announcement from Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is scheduled for Monday, Associated Press reports.


As a result of the increase, food stamp beneficiaries can expect to see average per-person benefits to rise from $121 a month to $157 a month. Under President Joe Biden's leadership, a multi-pronged plan to strengthen the country’s social safety net is currently underway. The boost is part of these efforts. According to food security and poverty eradication activists, longstanding inadequacies in food assistance programs such as SNAP were laid bare as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, any post-pandemic recovery plan must include the financial and institutional strengthening of these important safety nets.


During the Coronavirus pandemic, dozens of families across the United States were forced to either choose between cheaper, less nutritious, and smaller meal options or alternatively go without three square meals a day. This was particularly true towards the end of the month when household funds were depleted (unconditional cash transfers, otherwise known as stimulus checks, simply were not enough to sustain America's families). As per Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks leading the fight against hunger in the United States, more than 42 million people may experience food insecurity, including a potential 13 million children, due to the ongoing public health crisis.


SNAP, which ensures access to nutritious food while helping to pave a pathway to long-term success and self-sufficiency, supports some of the country's most marginalized communities. For instance, more than 66 percent of SNAP participants are in families with children includes. Furthermore, almost 36 percent of SNAP participants are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities, and almost 42 percent are in working families.


Contrary to popular belief, food assistance programs can have a positive effect on the national economy. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. Households receive SNAP benefits on electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards, which can be used only to purchase food at one of about 247,600 authorized retail locations around the country. To see if you are eligible for SNAP, you can get in touch with your state agency by visiting your local SNAP office (a state directory can be found here), visiting your state agency’s website, or calling your state’s toll-free SNAP Information hotline. Some states even have online applications that can be completed from the state agency website.


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