(WASHINGTON) — Millions of Americans who struggle to get food on the table will soon receive new assistance thanks to a historic increase in funding.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a reevaluation to its Thrifty Food Plan, marking the first major update in over 45 years to reflect current cost realities for low-income families.
The plan estimates the price of a budget-conscious diet for a family of four and calculates the average need for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. The recalculations to the program, formerly referred to as food stamps, will go into effect Oct. 1. Each qualified recipient, on average, will see a rise from $121 to $157 per month.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called the modernized plan “an investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security” that will better provide healthy food to low-income families.
“Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs,” he said. “The additional money families will spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way.”
The historic increase approved by President Joe Biden’s administration will help food aid rise by more than 25% from pre-pandemic levels for all 42 million program beneficiaries.
According to the Agriculture Department, the retooled plan’s average monthly benefits, which were $121 per person per month before the pandemic, will rise by $36.24 under the new rules.
“The reevaluation concluded that the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost effective diet is 21% higher” than the current plan, according to the Agriculture Department.
This boost comes on the cusp of emergency SNAP benefits that are set to expire at the end of September. They were first put into place as a pandemic protection measure as part of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion relief bill signed in March.
The USDA called SNAP “the most far-reaching, powerful tool available to ensure that all Americans, regardless of background, can afford healthy food.”
The program helps to feed 1 in 8 Americans each month with evidence showing that SNAP increases food security, including among households with children who have been disproportionately impacted by hunger during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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