SNAP funding hike boosts grocery buying power in the US

Published on
April 22, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has hiked funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), allowing millions of households to buy more groceries.

The agency also expanded a pilot program that permits SNAP recipients to order groceries online.

The USDA increased funding to the program by 40 percent to USD 2 billion (EUR 1.8 billion) in emergency allotments per month, “significantly increasing food purchasing power for American families,” the agency said in a press release. Already, around USD 4.5 billion (EUR 4.2 billion) in benefits have been distributed to SNAP households monthly.

“These are unprecedented times for American families who are facing joblessness and hunger. USDA is providing a 40 percent increase in SNAP benefits to ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.

The average five-person household that garners SNAP benefits receives USD 528 (EUR 489); they will now have an additional USD 240 (EUR 222) monthly in food purchasing power, USDA said.

The USDA also said this week that it is expanding its online purchasing pilot program for SNAP to cover half of all households in the program. SNAP households in Kentucky, Missouri, and Texas will now have the ability to purchase food online.

Additionally, last week, USDA said it added Arizona, California, Idaho, Florida, Washington D.C., and North Carolina to the SNAP online pilot program, which is already operational in Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington state.

SNAP recipients in the approved states can order groceries from Amazon and Walmart. In New York, they can also order groceries from Shoprite and, in Alabama, they can buy groceries from Wrights Market.

The target start date for the full rollout will be announced at a later time, USDA said.

Earlier this year, the Trump adminstration attempted to change the conditions of how Americans could access the SNAP program, adding a work requirement, which would have affected around 688,000 U.S. residents. However, Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the US District Court in Washington, D.C., temporarily blocked the administration from enforcing the rule in March.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

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