WASHINGTON — The previously announced 5.3% cost of living increase to the maximum benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) takes effect today [Oct. 1st], the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminded. As a result, SNAP households will likely see an increase in their benefits starting this month.
Nearly all states have opted to automatically provide all SNAP households the maximum benefit for their household size under legislation passed in response to the pandemic. Therefore, with the increased maximum benefit amounts, a typical household of four will receive $680 a month, up from their previous amount of $646 per month, in addition to any benefits they receive from other nutrition assistance programs.
“The higher maximum monthly benefits will help ensure SNAP participants continue to have access to nutritious food during these unprecedented times,” said USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Pam Miller. “These individuals and families are also eligible for other FNS programs that are helping to meet an increased need.”
The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 mandates that maximum SNAP benefit allotments for each fiscal year (October through September) be adjusted to reflect the average cost of the Thrifty Food Plan in the proceeding June. The June 2020 Cost of Food Report revealed a 5.3% increase in the cost of the Thrifty Food Plan from last year, which is more than double the 20-year annual average increase of 2%, accounting for the rise in food costs.
The FY 2021 maximum SNAP allotments for the District of Columbia and all states other than Alaska and Hawaii are as follows:
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Allotment|
|Each additional person||$153|
Maximum SNAP allotments are different for Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; those amounts can be found here.
Currently, as authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, nearly all states are also providing SNAP households with emergency allotments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These supplements bring benefit amounts for all SNAP households up to the maximum allotment for their household size, which will be higher beginning today.
SNAP households are also eligible for other USDA programs to help fulfill their nutrition needs. For example, SNAP participants may be able to receive:
- Free school meals – Thanks to flexibilities provided by USDA, schools and other sites are currently able to provide meals at no cost to all children through FNS’ summer meal programs. Families can find meals at more than 87,000 locations across the country using FNS’ “Meals 4 Kids” interactive site finder.
- WIC benefits – The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food, health care referrals, and nutrition education to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk.
- Pandemic EBT – A new benefit, authorized in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, provides families of children who normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school with food-buying benefits similar to SNAP. In an average month, it provides an additional $114 per month, per child.
- CSFP food boxes – The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides boxes of nutritious, USDA-purchased foods to low-income seniors. ·
- Support from food banks – Food banks often serve as the first line of defense against food insecurity for those in immediate need. USDA provides food and administrative funds to states, who in turn provide support to distributing agencies like food banks, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). USDA has provided significant support to food banks throughout the pandemic.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy. Follow us on Twitter at @USDANutrition.
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