Personal Finance

Food assistance benefits are increasing. Here’s what families need to know

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When will the change take effect?

Eligible families should see larger benefits come October.

How much will benefits go up by?

The average SNAP allowance will increase by $36.24 per person per month, or $1.19 per day, Protas said.

For a family of four receiving the maximum benefit, they’ll get $835 a month, up from $782.

In a few places, the cap is higher. For example, Alaskan families may get up to $1,667 a month under the new rules, Protas said.

Do I qualify for the increase?

The boost should reach most of the households that are currently SNAP-eligible, Protas said.

Is there anything I have to do to get the boost?

You shouldn’t have to.

“This increase should automatically convey to households that are already eligible,” Protas said.

If you don’t yet receive food stamps but think you may be eligible, the USDA has a state-by-state guide to applying for the aid. If accessing the internet is a problem, you can look up your state’s SNAP phone number on the USDA’s website. In many states, you can also dial 211 to apply. 

The money will be sent to you each 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 within a week.

Do the new rules impact SNAP eligibility?

Where can I use my SNAP benefits?

The USDA has an interactive map where you can search for retailers that accept SNAP benefits.

Many farmers’ markets accept the card, and you can search for one near you on the USDA’s website. In addition, a growing number of states now let you use the funds to order groceries online.

Recipients are also eligible year-round for the Double Up Bucks program, which is available in 25 states and allows people to get twice the amount of fruits and vegetables for their money.

Families still worried about being able to afford enough food can look for food banks in their neighborhood at FeedingAmerica.org. They can also call the Why Hunger Hotline at 1-800-5-HUNGRY, or text their ZIP Code to 1-800-548-6479 to get connected to local emergency food providers and soup kitchens.

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