Struggling families are getting the extra assistance they need. On Sunday, the Biden Administration announced the largest increase to EBT benefits in the program’s history.
EBT benefit amounts will rise on average 25 percent from pre-pandemic levels, reported The New York Times.
The increase is unique in that it does not require approval from Congress and is not expected to expire like additional EBT assistance that was put in place as part of the large pandemic package last year.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an estimated 38 million Americans were a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that provides EBT benefits in 2019. That number is now around 42 million.
In 2020, the use of food stamps increased 50% as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the employment numbers and businesses were forced to decrease labor costs or close completely.
The news is especially welcome as children were some of the biggest victims of the pandemic when it came to accessing nutrition. With schools going online, many working-class and poor parents found themselves unable to properly nourish their offspring. Pandemic emergency assistance programs provided a small uptick in EBT benefits for families with children, but those funds were temporary.
Further, one major critique of the EBT program for at least the last decade has been that benefit levels were too low to feed families for the month properly. Most SNAP recipients use 75 percent of their total benefits by the middle of the month, making the last two weeks uncertain. The average amount for a single person is $121 per month. Under the new rules, about $36 will be added to the per-person amount.
Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, sees the Biden administration’s revision to the EBT program as an important part of maintaining American democracy.
“We may have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence, but if we had 42 million Americans who were going hungry, really hungry, they wouldn’t be happy, and there would be political instability,” Vilsack said.
The new changes will take effect in October.