If you have a full fridge and don’t have to worry about where your next meal will come from, count your blessings. More than 41 million Americans have to rely upon a federal program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly food stamps) just to get enough to eat. The program enables eligible individuals and families to buy staples such as fruits and veggies, breads and cereals, uncooked meat and dairy.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), SNAP benefits play a key role in helping to reduce both hunger and food insecurity, as backed by research. It shows that almost 90% of families on SNAP live in households with children, elderly adults and or disabled adults. Children under 18 make up almost half of those on SNAP, at 43%, and about 90% of those on SNAP live at or below the poverty line.
There is also a significant portion of workers who are employed, but are simply making wages too low to afford their food needs, who are also on SNAP. It is a much-needed program. To accommodate economic impacts, including the pandemic, inflation and other financial hardships, SNAP benefits increased between 2021 and 2022. Let’s take a look at some other changes and expectations for the future of the program.
The Maximum Benefits for 2022
As of early 2022, families of four receiving the maximum allotment of SNAP benefits are now receiving:
- In the 48 states and D.C., the maximum allotment is $835.
- In Alaska, maximum allotments range from $1,074 to $1,667.
- In Hawaii, the maximum allotment is $1,573.
- In Guam, the maximum allotment is $1,231.
- In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the maximum allotment is $1,074.
Take Our Poll: Do You Think You Will Be Able To Retire at Age 65?
The minimum benefit for the 48 states and D.C. will go up to $20 and will also increase in Alaska, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition, the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan, which was first issued in August 2021 but went into effect in 2022, increased SNAP’s average benefits per person per day from approximately $1.20 to about $5.45 for 2022 (about 27%).
Congress put many additional supports into place in the early days of the pandemic, some of which have expired. However, one, known as emergency allotments, which were approved as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, can be re-upped at each state’s individual discretion until October 13, 2022 (and may be extended through the remainder of the year — that’s up to the states).
In order to extend these benefits, there must be a national public health emergency, and the state must have made a state-level emergency declaration in place. For more info on SNAP and its benefits, check out our complete guide to the program.
More From GOBankingRates