SNAP benefits to increase nationwide
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, is increasing benefits for families nationwide.
Typically, SNAP benefits increase around 1 percent each year, but starting Friday, Oct. 1, it will increase 15 percent, which is about $35 a month per family.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reevaluated the Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to determine SNAP benefits. The increase in funds comes from looking at four major categories: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance, and the nutrients in those food items.
Nearly 42 million Americans receive benefits nationwide. In Chatham County, there are nearly 23,000 families receiving SNAP benefits, totaling over $9 million in assistance.
Step Up Savannah says the change was a long time coming, and they are excited for the families to have an extra amount of funds each month.
“It’s a great positive supplement that our partners are providing to us and I would just say to use that money and use it wisely and hopefully it will help cover some of those costs,” said Kimberly Paulk, Public Benefits Program Manager.
While the demand for SNAP increases, so does the denial rate. Between 2018 and 2021, the number of families denied have doubled in Chatham County. During the 2021 fiscal year, more than 7,000 families in Chatham County did not meet the criteria.
The increase impacts families already receiving benefits. There is still no change for those who do not qualify. So while the change is positive for those who qualify, Step Up Savannah says there is still some work to do.
For those already receiving benefits, the increase will start on Oct. 1, 2021, and will remain in effect through the fiscal year of 2022.
In Chatham County, Forsyth Farmers’ Market and their 912 Food Pharmacy not only collects SNAP benefits, but also doubles their value. That means every SNAP dollar equals $2 for purchases. In the past 12 months, they’ve had more than $70,000 in SNAP sales, equaling about $35,000 in SNAP dollars spent on food.
Executive Director of Forsyth Farmers’ Market Jeb Bush says the increase in benefits will not only help them purchase more food but healthier food. Fresh produce can often be more expense than canned or frozen foods, so the increase combined with their two-for-one program, Bush hopes families will take advantage to afford more nutritious meals.
“We started our 912 Food Pharmacy program for this year and did surveys with those. All of those participants are on SNAP or WIC and 67 percent of those participants said they could not afford to eat balanced meals throughout the month so this increase is long overdue and hopefully we can continue to see changes for the better,” Bush said.
They expect to see an increase of SNAP dollars spent at the farmers’ market and the 912 Food Pharmacy over the next few months, which Bush says is a good boost for local farmers and growers as well.
To learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, click here.
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