Recipients of food stamp benefits could see 5% increase starting in October

People who depend on the federal food stamp program could see a 5% increase in those benefits starting in October, federal officials said Wednesday.

The increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) announced by the United States Department of Agriculture is more than double the annual cost of living decrease, but far less than groups fighting hunger have called for given the rise of food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Anti-hunger groups like Feeding America have called for a 15% increase in SNAP benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices have increased by 4.5% over the last 12 months.

In a memo to state agencies, the USDA says the maximum allotment for SNAP recipients in most states, including California, would go from $646 a month to $680. That's the maximum amount that a family of four can receive but officials say the increase will vary for each individual case.

"This adjustment will not only help SNAP participants during this unprecedented crisis but will also support the American farmers, ranchers, fishers, and producers who are working hard throughout this pandemic to keep our grocery stores stocked with nutritious, domestic products," Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Pam Miller said in a statement.
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