As pandemic food stamp increase expires, will it be renewed?

Jul 7, 2020

People who receive food stamps have seen a big boost during the pandemic. In the last stimulus bill, Congress increased benefits by $15 billion. But those increased benefits ran out in June. Now, Congress is weighing whether to increase money for food stamps in the next stimulus package, expected this month.

Food insecurity has risen during the pandemic. According to the Brookings Institution, one in five moms say their kids aren’t getting enough food.

Brittany Christianson, who heads up the non-profit ADK Action, works with people who receive food assistance. Back in April, they got huge relief when Congress increased SNAP benefits in a big way.

Credit SNAP

“There’s an elderly woman in Essex County who had been receiving $16 per month. One-six. And due to the extension of SNAP benefits, she was getting closer to $200 a month,” Christianson said.

When this older woman first got the money, she thought it was a scam She called the food pantry she had been relying on to get their take. When they told her it was real, she was thrilled.

Research shows increases to SNAP like this reduce food insecurity and boost local economies.

“Every SNAP dollar spent puts more than $1.80 back into the economy," said state Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. "When families can afford to purchase food, it allays pressure on food banks.”

But these increased SNAP benefits expired in June and they are always a political flashpoint in Washington.

Anti-hunger advocates and Democrats, including Gillibrand, are pushing for a 15-percent increase. On the other hand, many Republicans have tried to shrink the program, saying it bolsters a welfare state.