Additional money headed to Georgia food stamp recipients amid virus

File photo.

File photo.

Georgia’s 1 million food stamp recipients will get additional money this month as state officials work to ensure all have access to food during the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Food stamp recipients will receive the maximum allowed under federal guidelines in March and April.

Under the guidelines announced by Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday, a senior citizen who typically receives about $15 in monthly benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, will qualify for the maximum $194 allowed to be given to a household of one.

Since food stamps already have been distributed for March, that senior citizen would receive an additional $179 by the end of the month. Recipients will receive the maximum benefit for their household size when SNAP is dispersed in April.

“In March and April, approximately 1 million Georgians who receive SNAP will get an additional $100 (on average) in nutrition benefits,” Kemp said.

Division of Family and Children Services Director Tom Rawlings said between $15 million and $20 million will be distributed to Georgians in need in March and April. A federally-funded program, no state money is used for SNAP benefits.

And need is increasing, he said. DFCS received 12,000 online SNAP applications last week, up from about 6,400 two weeks prior.

Additionally, Rawlings said federal law approved last week allows the division to waive the SNAP guidelines that require able-bodied adults without dependents to either work or attend training for at least 20 hours a week.

“The law allows us to dismiss those work and training requirements temporarily, but also eases administrative burden on our staff,” he said, freeing them up to process applications. “With a pandemic, a lot of those jobs people might otherwise get have been suspended and jobs just aren’t available right now.”

According to federal guidelines, the maximum monthly SNAP benefits that can be given are $194 for a household of one up to $1,164 for a household of eight. The average household receives about $225 monthly in food stamps.