SNAP benefits will decrease for millions of low-income households this Spring. The program, formerly known as food stamps, received a significant boost during the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Those protections will soon expire as lawmakers discuss the program’s future in Farm Bill discussions. The decrease also goes against the Biden Administration’s plan to expand SNAP benefits and end hunger by 2030.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found more than 38 million people benefited from SNAP before to the pandemic in 2019. As COVID-19 swept across America, Congress raised all benefits by 15% and boosted each household to the maximum benefit for the size. The USDA approximates at least a $95 increase for every household.
While the pandemic boosts to SNAP benefits will expire, the future of the program’s funding is uncertain. Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are working on a new, multi-year Farm Bill. Nutrition programs, like SNAP, accounted for 76% of the last Farm Bill passed in 2018.
SNAP Benefits is the largest Anti-Hunger program in the nation, according to the USDA. The program has bipartisan support. However, several leaders voiced concern over the program during a recent Senate agriculture committee hearing.
Sen. John Boozman is a ranking committee member sharing his concern. Boozman calls the pandemic boost to SNAP Benefits “unsustainable.” Moreover, he points to SNAP costs increasing 94% since the last Farm Bill passed five years ago.
“When one program constitutes more than 80% of the spending in the next farm bill, and thereby effectively crowds out the ability to make crucial investments in every other title, is there really any room left for farmers in the traditional farm bill coalition?” Boozman said during the hearing.
What’s Next for SNAP Benefits and The Farm Bill?
Sen. John Boozman joins other Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, calling for more strict work requirements for SNAP benefits. Before COVID-19, 20 hours of work per week, or job training was required to be in the program. However, those requirements were paused because of the pandemic.
The Food Research and Action Center estimates the average recipient will lose $82 starting in March 2023. The decrease comes as record inflation continues to fuel the increase of food costs Nationwide. As Farm Bill discussions continue, more lawmakers are targeting SNAP benefits spending as discussions about decreasing the national debt continue. Lawmakers have until October 1, 2023, to pass an extension or a new Farm Bill. Otherwise, millions who rely on ‘food stamps’ face even further economic uncertainty this Fall.