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What is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)?

SNAP benefits are crucial support for those who receive them, especially in a time with such high inflation that is affecting everyone’s spending power.

Oliver Povey
Update:
The United States Department of Agriculture announced a historic increase in the value of SNAP benefits for 2022.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as SNAP, is a federal programme to help low-income families and individuals to purchase food using Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards in authorized stores.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which manages the program, has more than 9.3 million households and over 21 million people who received SNAP benefits in August 2021, 1 in 7 if all families.

The US government has expanded the payments that can be received through SNAP benefits, but not everyone is eligible. This was part of President Biden’s Thrifty Food Plan devised by the Agriculture Department, intending to support Americans who have been hit hard during the pandemic.

“We may have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence, but if we had 42 million Americans who were going hungry, really hungry, they wouldn’t be happy and there would be political instability,” said agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack back in August.

Who is eligible for SNAP benefits?

SNAP eligibility depends on household income. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the program, but the actual distribution is done at the state level, and those entities approve SNAP applications.

The USDA has put together a tool that allows residents of all states and territories to find the agency tasked with distributing SNAP benefits. States are allowed to establish their own requirements.

Furthermore, there is an eligibility checker on the benefits.gov website. By submitting some of your information you are able to assess online whetehr you would qualify for SNAP support.

How much could you receive through SNAP benefits?

According to USDA data as of January 7, 2022, SNAP paid on average $243.42 per person and $460.64 per household. For this year it was announced that there was to be a rise in the maximum payment people could receive in SNAP benefits, due to the inlfation seen at the end of 2021. However, the war in Ukraine has pushed inflation even higher and it is unlikely the previous benefits raise can match it.

For families of four people living in the 48 contiguous US states, including the District of Columbia, the maximum allocation for the year will be $835.

For families of four people living in Alaska, the maximum is between $1,074 and $1,667 in Alaska, while people in Hawaii can receive a maximum of $1,573.

In two US dependencies, families in Guam can receive a maximum of $1,231, while those in the US Virgin Islands can receive up to $1,074, the same as the minimum in Alaska.

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