Baylor professor speaks on largest food SNAP benefit increase in history

Regional News

Instacart worker Saori Okawa loads groceries into her car for home delivery on Wednesday, July 1, 2020, in San Leandro, Calif. Okawa is one of an estimated 1.5 million so-called gig workers who make a living driving people to airports, picking out produce at grocery stores or providing childcare for working parents. But with the pandemic pummeling the global economy and U.S. unemployment reaching heights not seen since the Great Depression, gig workers are clamoring for jobs that often pay less while facing stiff competition from a crush of newly unemployed workers also attempting to patch together a livelihood until the economy recovers. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

WACO, Texas – A historic change to SNAP benefits will permanently increase the amount Americans receive by 25 percent.

Starting October 1, the Biden Administration will increase SNAP benefits by 25 percent – making it the largest increase in food stamp history.

Professor and Baylor Collaborative on Hunger & Poverty member Craig Gundersen says he has studied the benefits program for over 25 years – even attending a USDA roundtable reviewing benefit levels.

“One of the arguments that a lot of us made was that, look, you know, it’s just not enough money for people to afford a food secure diet,” Gundersen said. “So this is part of the reason why I think they increased it. They recognize that it was not high enough to make all SNAP recipients food secure.”

According to the USDA, recent evidence shows the benefit levels were too low to provide realistic healthy diets for households – even with them contributing their own money towards groceries.

Over 40 million people across America receive SNAP benefits, and nine out of ten people face barriers with the cost of food.

“They had a program that was designed to address food insecurity, and given the maximum benefit levels wasn’t able to address food insecurity – that was a problem,” Gundersen said.

The new changes to benefits will increase by $36.24 per person, per month. Gundersen says this will greatly impact the local community – and across the U.S., decreasing food insecurity by 50 percent.

“I am super, super-excited about this transformative event in the United States,” Gundersen said. “This is the biggest change to SNAP since 1979.”

Regional Manager for SNAP strategy Khristian Howard said in a statement:

“The SNAP benefits increases do more than help families afford adequate amounts of food. These increases give families the ability to eat a healthier diet as well. Studies have shown that price is a main deterrent to choosing healthier grocery options, so with an expanded SNAP budget, families can change the nutritional quality of what they eat and experience the health benefits associated with that. 

“In addition to impacting health and nutrition, the increase in SNAP dollars can positively impact the economy as money flows into SNAP retailers and helps sustain jobs and healthy businesses. For families experiencing food insecurity, having access to workforce programs, financial education, and other wrap-around services can help them maximize SNAP’s capacity to impact food insecurity status and poverty. Having a strong collaboration between community-focused agencies in Waco is integral to providing this kind of support and taking full advantage of the SNAP increases for our community as a whole.” 

“SNAP has proven to be, in my opinion, the most successful program we have,” Gundersen said. “It sets out to alleviate food insecurity, and it does just that.”

To learn how this change will affect you, you can visit the USDA estimated increase chart.

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