USDA increasing SNAP benefits with pandemic relief funds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday that it would be increasing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, by 15 percent through funds from Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.

According to a press release from the White House, the increase will provide around $3.5 billion to around 41 million people in households experiencing food insecurity, working out to an average $28 more per person every month, varying from state to state.

“We cannot sit by and watch food insecurity grow in the United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom VilsackTom VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE said in the release. “The American Rescue Plan brings help to those hurting the most due to the pandemic. It increases SNAP benefits so households can afford to put food on the table. It invests in working people and small towns and small businesses to get the economy back on track. And it makes the most meaningful investments in generations to reduce poverty.”

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The USDA plan will also provide $1 billion in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa. An additional $1.135 billion will be provided to U.S. states over three years, which they will not be required to match.

The additional funds will also go toward expanding online SNAP purchases as well as the development of "mobile payment technologies," to help with SNAP benefits.

"With these investments, we hope to make it easier for participants, especially individuals in rural areas, as well as those with physical limitations, to order and pay for their groceries online," the USDA said in its plan.