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Washington, D.C. -- On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) benefit increases. The total increase amount is $2 billion, which represents a 40% increase in monthly SNAP benefits. The increase does not mean that every family receiving SNAP benefits will receive a 40% increase, however.

“These are unprecedented times for American families who are facing joblessness and hunger. USDA is providing a 40% increase in SNAP benefits to ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency,” said Secretary Perdue. “President Trump is taking care of America’s working-class families who have been hit hard with economic distress due to the coronavirus. Ensuring all households receive the maximum allowable SNAP benefit is an important part of President Trump’s whole of America response to the coronavirus.”

The average five-person household receives $528 in monthly SNAP benefits, out of a maximum of $768. With the new emergency benefits, the average five-person household will now receive an additional $240 monthly in food purchasing power, bringing them up to the maximum.

Households cannot legally receive more than the maximum unless their state has requested a temporary raised cap, which can last for only two months.

The additional $2 billion per month in funding was approved through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law on March 18.

Other actions that the USDA is taking to help include:

  • Providing over 227 million pounds of food, valued at $243 million, through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), with another $850 million available through the Familes First Act and CARES Act
  • Launching Pandemic-EBT to help families who usually rely on school breakfast and lunch programs
  • Issuing Disaster Household Distributions to 16 states and territories as well as 29 tribes
  • Providing over a million meals per week through the public-private Meals to You partnership
  • Helping states serve free meals to children in over 35,000 sites nationwide
  • Allowing greater flexibility for meal times in free meal programs
  • Increasing access to online purchasing through SNAP
  • Debuting the "Meals for Kids" website to help families find food for children while schools are closed
  • Expediting application processing for SNAP and WIC
  • Providing administrative flexibility for SNAP and WIC to allow social distancing

This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.