The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have increased 40 percent since last month. 

The increase coincides with record numbers of applications for unemployment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, as social distancing measures put in place by state governments have shuttered most businesses and services.

SNAP typically costs the government $4.5 billion each month. 

“These are unprecedented times for American families who are facing joblessness and hunger,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. 

Each state has requested emergency funding for the SNAP program in their state as of Wednesday, according to USDA. 

The increase in SNAP enrollment comes as the USDA is reportedly looking to tighten enrollment requirements at the request of states seeking to balance their budgets. 

On Tuesday, 22 state attorneys general asked the USDA not to finalize a proposed rule that would disallow those who have already proven eligible for other social programs to skip administrative application processes for SNAP and automatically receive assistance.

Tags Coronavirus Pandemic SNAP benefits Sonny Perdue USDA
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