The Biden administration has changed the guidance so households that had not received an increase of at least $95 in monthly benefits through emergency allotments will be eligible to get a boost from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
“People will have a greater opportunity to afford the basics that they need,” said Ellen Vollinger, legal director for Food Research & Action Center, an advocacy group.
The issue dates back to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which Congress passed in March 2020. It raised households’ food stamp allotment to the maximum amount for their family size. Some $29 billion in additional benefits have been distributed so far under this provision.
But about 40% of households that were already receiving the largest benefit possible saw no bump up in their payments due to the Trump administration’s implementation of the relief provision. About 40% of these have children, 20% have an elderly member and 15% include someone who is disabled.
Americans are also flooding food pantries in order to feed themselves and their families. Food banks are serving 55% more customers now than before the pandemic and expect to distribute even more meals this year than in 2020, according to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
That December deal included a 15% enhancement to food stamp benefits for all households through June, along with a $600 stimulus check, a $300 weekly federal boost to unemployment benefits and an extension of two key pandemic unemployment programs.