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08/16/2021

Food stamp benefits to increase by 25%

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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SNAP shopping

The largest boost ever in the history of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is set to take effect this fall.

Beginning in October, average SNAP will rise more than 25% to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries. The average monthly per-person benefits will rise from $121 to $157. The increase, which totals $1.19 a day, reflects higher costs for a nutritious diet, the USDA said.

The move by the Biden administration does not require congressional approval, and unlike the large pandemic-era expansions, which are starting to expire, the changes are intended to last.

The increase is is part of a USDA review of the food stamp program that is required under the 2018 Farm Bill. The then-Republican-led Congress ordered the agency to re-evaluate the plan by fiscal 2022 -- and every five years thereafter. It was last adjusted in 2006. 

“Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more,” stated Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack. “And the additional money families will spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way."

In addition to families with children, many food stamp recipients are disabled Americans or senior citizens on fixed incomes, Vilsack said on a call with reporters.

The increase is likely to give a boost to retailers such as Walmart, Amazon and discount grocers. An increasing number of food retailers, from Walmart to BJ’s Wholesale Club, offer consumers using food stamps the ability to purchase them online with electronic benefit transfer cards.