This past Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it is increasing benefits from its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP) program, AKA food stamps. The funding for this increase to the food stamp program comes from the American Rescue Plan which is President Joe Biden’s Covid Relief bill that recently got signed into law.
In a press release by the USDA, they plan to roll out “a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through September 2021, providing an estimated $3.5 billion to households experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The expansion of 15% “will provide about $28 more per person, per month, or more than $100 more per month for a household of four, in additional SNAP benefits.”
“We cannot sit by and watch food insecurity grow in the United States,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The American Rescue Plan brings help to those hurting the most due to the pandemic. It increases SNAP benefits so households can afford to put food on the table. It invests in working people and small towns and small businesses to get the economy back on track. And it makes the most meaningful investments in generations to reduce poverty.”
As stated in the data provided by the USDA, participation in the program jumped up from the fiscal year of 2019 to 2020 by over 4 million people. Again from the fiscal year 2020-2021, it increased by about another 2 million people. However, the fiscal year of 2018 shows similar statistics to 2020 and 2021 at ~41 million people enrolled in the program. the 2020 and 2021 fiscal year enrollment numbers were around ~40 million and ~42 million respectively.
The data also includes information about the costs of the SNAP program. In 2018, the cost was over $60 billion, but during the fiscal year of 2019, the cost went down to $55 billion. In 2020, the cost increased to over $74 billion.
An information sheet on the nutrition program extension states that without the COVID relief bill, the expansion of the program in place would end in June. It states, “The extension will provide an estimated $3.5 billion in relief directly to over 41 million people living in struggling households. In addition to helping millions of families put food on the table, additional SNAP benefits are shown to have a powerful stimulative impact on the economy.” It also states that more benefits provided through SNAP help to reduce child poverty by almost half, which it says is one of the American Rescue Plan’s “most powerful estimated impacts.”
The expansion will also help the states as they roll out the increased benefits through SNAP by giving “an additional $1.135 billion in administrative resources for states over three years, without requiring states to match those funds.”
Anyone who wishes to check if they eligible for assistance from the program can visit the SNAP eligibility website.