FOOD ASSISSTANCE BENEFITS

Food stamps for families: how much will the value go up and when?

US Department of Agriculture announces a historic increase to food stamps, or SNAP benefits, that will reach 42 million Americans starting in October.

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Food stamps for families: how much will the value go up and when?
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP

On 15 August, President Biden approved the largest sustained increase in the value of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the history of the program.

How much will the benefits increase?

Currently, around 1 in 8 families, or 42 million Americans, receive SNAP benefits. Starting 1 October, families can expect to see an increase of $36.24 per person, per month.

Why has the government decided to increase the value of SNAP benefits?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the distribution of SNAP benefits. The amount given to households is determined using the Thrifty Family Plan. The value of the plan is determined by calculating the “cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet prepared at home for a family of four, which is defined in law as an adult male and female, ages 20-50, and two children, ages 6-8 and 9-11.”

Recently, USDA undertook a research project to determine whether it was time to adjust the value of SNAP benefits based on the Thrify Family Plan.

Earlier this summer a report was released with the findings and the experts concluded: “that nearly nine out of 10 SNAP participants reported facing barriers to achieving a healthy diet, with the most common barrier being the cost of healthy foods.”

After the historic increase was announced, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack told the media that these increases will have positive impacts on families and communities more generally. Sec Vilsack spoke to how “Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more.”

Additionally, SNAP benefits can only be used on groceries meaning that this targeted investment will also help to “grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way.”

The 2018 Farm Bill mandated that USDA undertake a reassessment of SNAP benefits by 2022, and also included a provision to require an adjustment every five years, thereafter.

Which states are expected to see the largest increases in the value of SNAP benefits?

Based on a factsheet released by USDA, stated that will see the largest increases are California, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina.