Aug 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden administration approves major increase to SNAP benefits

Store with EBT signage.
A sign noting the acceptance of EBT cards that are used by state welfare departments to issue benefits is displayed at a convenience store in California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday announced a major permanent increase to food assistance benefits, providing additional aid to low-income families.

Why it matters: It's the largest increase in the history of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with average monthly benefits set to rise by around $36 per person.

  • In January, Biden issued an executive order increasing the scope of SNAP and other food assistance programs, prompting the reevaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to calculate SNAP benefits.
  • The changes reflect the "shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances," since the program was created in 1975 per the Department of Agriculture.
  • The increase is slated to begin on Oct. 1, for fiscal year 2022.

The big picture: Nearly 43.8 million people were on the program in 2020, up from 35.7 million in 2019, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • The increase excludes additional funding provided by pandemic-related aid and comes as many states are rescinding their emergency declarations, the Washington Post notes.
  • The coronavirus drove federal spending on the program up by an average of 28% per month last year, nearly double the largest monthly growth seen during the Great Recession.
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