USDA to permanently boost food stamp benefits by 25%

Increased assistance scheduled to start in October for SNAP Program

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has approved a significant and permanent increase in the levels of food stamp assistance available to needy families — the largest single increase in the program’s history.

Starting in October, average benefits for food stamps — officially known as the SNAP program — will rise more than 25% above pre-pandemic levels. The increased assistance will be available indefinitely to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries.

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The aid boost was first reported by The New York Times, and the details were confirmed by a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department. They will be formally announced Monday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The aid boost is being packaged as a major revision of the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan. In concrete terms, the average monthly per-person benefits will rise from $121 to $157.

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The increase is part of a multi-pronged Biden administration effort to strengthen the country's social safety net. Poverty and food security activists maintain that longstanding inadequacies in that safety net were laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic, presenting an opportunity to make generational improvements that reach beyond the current public health crisis.

Activists say the previous levels of pre-pandemic SNAP assistance simply weren’t enough, forcing many households to choose cheaper, less nutritious options or simply go hungry as the funds ran low toward the end of the month.