White House announces historic increase in SNAP benefits

The White House on Monday announced an expansion to the federal food stamp program that will give 42 million Americans at least 25% more to spend on groceries each month.

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Everyone on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive the additional aid. The increase is permanent, unlike such COVID-19 pandemic programs as the Advance Child Tax Credit which expires at the end of the year.

Average monthly benefits, which were $121 per person before the COVID-19 pandemic, will increase by $36.24 per person, or $1.19 per day, totaling $157.24 monthly, according to the Associated Press.

The new plan will raise the program’s costs by about $20 billion a year from pre-pandemic levels, The New York Times reported.

The program is available to households that meet certain criteria. A state SNAP agency determines eligibility for the program.

The increase is the largest in the program’s history and does not require congressional approval. It grew out of a law passed in 2018 which ordered a review of the program and gave the Agriculture Department four years to carry it out.

Former U.S. House Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, the chief author of the 2018 law, told The Times it was written “assuming the precedent of cost-neutrality would be followed.

Conaway said he warned the administration against “unilateral overreach.”

Two Republican legislators called for a watchdog to review the plan prior to the White House announcement Monday, The Times reported.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday calling the increase ‘a day of great progress.’

“Today is a day of great progress for struggling families across the nation, who will soon see a permanent and substantial increase to their monthly SNAP benefits for the first time ever. Thanks to the Biden Administration strengthening this important lifeline, parents will be able to afford healthy food for their families and children will not have to go to bed hungry,” the statement read.

Those found eligible for the SNAP program receive benefits on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which works like a debit card.

SNAP benefits are automatically loaded onto the EBT card each month, allowing recipients to buy groceries at authorized food stores and retailers.