Biden administration announces the biggest increase to food stamps ever

Personal finance

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The Biden administration approved on Monday the biggest boost to food assistance benefits in the history of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a reform that could impact as many as 42 million Americans.

Starting in October, SNAP benefits will increase by an average of 25% above pre-pandemic levels. That will be the first time the purchasing power of the aid has changed since the program’s creation in 1975.

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

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the updated benefits formula is based on current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance and the nutrients in food items. A study by the government in June found that 88% of SNAP recipients were struggling to achieve a healthy diet.

The average benefit, which was $121 before Covid, will increase by $36 a month under the new policy, according to the USDA.

During the pandemic, all SNAP recipients got a 15% boost to their benefits, but that additional aid expires at the end of September.

Even as the economy improves from the worst of the pandemic, 10% of U.S. households continue to report not having enough food to eat, including 17% of Black families.

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