The federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has garnered a lot of headlines this summer, from the rollout of the Summer P-EBT program that aims to feed underprivileged kids to the continued expansion of online purchasing options for SNAP beneficiaries.
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides financial assistance to help low-income Americans buy food. The benefits are processed through the electronic benefit transfer debit card system.
Here’s a look at some of the key developments involving SNAP for the summer of 2022.
USDA Partners With States To Issue Child Food Benefits
A partnership between the USDA and states and territories launched a program to provide children with temporary food benefits, called Summer P-EBT, for Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer. As of July 11, more than 27 states and territories were participating in the program and providing an estimated 13 million children with food. Children are eligible for the program if they receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, or if they are under age 6 and live in a household receiving SNAP benefits. The benefits are loaded onto EBT cards that can be used to purchase food.
Approved states and territories include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Contact your appropriate state agency to learn more.
Instacart Expands SNAP EBT Payments to 10 More States
In late July, Instacart expanded its use of SNAP EBT card payments to 10 additional states: Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, TechCrunch reported. That brings the total to 49 states and Washington, D.C. The only state that doesn’t accept the Instacart EBT payment is Alaska. Following the expansion, Instacart said it now accepts SNAP EBT payments at more than 60 retailers at 8,000-plus stores and reaches nearly 30 million SNAP beneficiaries.
Boston Summer Eats Opens, Offering Free Lunch to Children
On July 8, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice, announced that 155 Boston Summer Eats Program meal sites opened and will run throughout the summer. Eligible youth 18-years-old and younger can enjoy breakfast, lunch and snacks in the Boston area at no cost. The hours of operation vary by site and no ID or registration is required. Households can also take advantage of the P-EBT program this summer. K-12 students will receive $391 in P-EBT benefits in two payments of $195.50 each.
You Can Now Apply for SNAP at the Same Time You Apply for SSI
If you receive Supplemental Security Income, you might now also be eligible for SNAP benefits under a new initiative from the Social Security Administration. You can even apply for both at the same time. If your household is applying for SSI or already receiving SSI, the SSA will:
- Help you complete your SNAP application over the phone. Call 1-800-772-1213, or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you’re deaf or hard of hearing
- Help you complete the application in person if you have a scheduled appointment
- Mail you a SNAP application if requested
- Send your completed application to your local SNAP office on your behalf
USDA Offers $5 Million Grant To Expand Online EBT Food Stamp Acceptance
The USDA announced plans to expand the number of retailers that offer online shopping for SNAP benefits through a $5 million competitive grant that is currently seeking applications. The SNAP EBT Modernization Technical Assistance Center grant, announced on July 7, will fund an organization that can provide online shopping technology and systems support to retailers, the USDA said on its website. The aim is to give SNAP participants access to a broader selection of retailers while shopping for groceries online. The grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan. All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on Sept. 6. The grant will be announced in fall 2022.
SNAP Benefits Could See Spike Due to Inflation
This year’s surging inflation rate — including the price of food, which is rising even higher than overall inflation — could result in much higher SNAP benefits next fiscal year. The USDA adjusts SNAP maximum allotments, deductions and income eligibility standards at the beginning of each fiscal year, which runs from October 1 through July 1. The changes are based on changes in the cost of living, or the amount of money needed to support a basic standard of living. Consumer Price Index data for June showed that the food-at-home index — meaning food you buy at a grocery or supermarket — soared 12.2% from the previous year, which was the biggest spike in four decades.
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