The latest stimulus bill extends the number of grocery stamps through September
Ohio National Guard members at the Mid Ohio Foodbank in Columbus. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and rising unemployment, the demand for food banks in the US has grown rapidly.
Matthew Hatcher | SOPA pictures | Getty Images
The US $ 1.9 trillion rescue plan, signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, provides further relief to millions of Americans – and especially children – facing food insecurity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan includes $ 12 billion for nutritional assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It will extend the 15% monthly benefit increase that the last Covid relief bill granted to all SNAP recipients through September, and help states continue the Pandemic EBT program that replaces meals for children when schools are closed.
It will also help update the special nutritional supplement program for women, infants, and children and increase federal resources for the states to meet the increased demand for SNAP benefits.
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Food insecurity has become a widespread issue in the Covid crisis. In the fall, nearly 20% of all adults and 40% of those in a family where at least one adult had lost a job reported food insecurity, according to the Urban Institute.
“Food shortages increased significantly during Covid-19, especially for households run by black and Latin American adults,” said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center. “SNAP benefits can help provide the nutrition households need.”
Here’s what you need to know.
How did the bill change SNAP?
The American bailout plan will extend through September the 15% increase that Covid’s aid package granted to all SNAP recipients in December. Temporary recharge should end before June.
That’s about $ 25 more per person per month, said Lisa Davis, senior vice president of the No Kid Hungry Campaign. A family of four receives an additional $ 100 per month.
How do I know if I qualify?
You have to apply.
Many people do not try to access the benefit because they believe they are ineligible or are concerned about the stigma, said Carrie R. Welton, policy director at The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice advocacy.
“People are going to bring their own shame to this, but that’s tax resources,” Welton said. “This pandemic is not everyone’s fault.”
SNAP has rules on how much wealth and income you can make in order to qualify. But certain expenses, including your rent and childcare costs, can be deducted, Welton said.
And the $ 300 weekly rise in federal unemployment in the bill also doesn’t count towards people’s income when they apply for SNAP, which allows more unemployed people to qualify. (Any government unemployment benefit is likely to be calculated in their income.)
“This helps ensure that some families in trouble don’t lose food aid because of modest unemployment benefits,” said Davis.
How do I apply?
The Center for Budgetary and Political Priorities has a state guide for applying for SNAP benefits.
The Department of Agriculture running the program also has resources to help you get started.
If accessing the Internet is currently a problem, you can look up your state’s SNAP phone number on the DOA website. Many states also allow you to choose 211 to apply.
How much could i get
Under the new rules, the maximum monthly SNAP benefit for a family of four is $ 782, up from $ 102 over pre-pandemic times, Guardia said.
The maximum SNAP benefit for a household of one is $ 234, which is an increase of $ 30.
In some states, the maximum benefit is higher. For example, a family of four in Hawaii may receive a monthly benefit of $ 1,440.
The money is sent to you every month on an EBT card which acts like a debit card. People typically get the money in less than 30 days, but those with little to no income could get their benefits in a week.
What if I have young children at home?
The Pandemic EBT program was launched during the health crisis to provide families with food who did not have access to free or discounted school meals. In an average month, an additional $ 114 is spent per child per month. This is on top of the regular SNAP benefits.
“This is a tremendous increase in benefit for them,” said Lauren Bauer, an economics scholar at the Brookings Institution.
The December bill gave states some additional flexibility to support the distribution of P-EBT benefits to school-age children, and expanded the program for children under 6 through September 2021 to provide a lifeline for toddlers when the Child care is closed.
A shocking number of children are hungry today.
Senior Vice President of the No Kid Hungry Campaign
The latest aid package from Covid extends the P-EBT benefits in the summer and ensures that children still receive food aid when the school is not occupied.
In general, benefits are automatically sent to eligible children, e.g. B. to children who already receive a free or reduced school lunch. Registration is not required. The money is either loaded onto a previous EBT card or onto a newly issued one.
“A shocking number of children are starving today,” Davis said, adding that approximately 17 million American children did not have enough to eat in 2020.