President Joe Biden’s administration is making a historic expansion to the federal food stamp program. The increase will impact around 42 million Americans by providing them at least 25% more money to spend on groceries starting in October.
“Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health-care costs and more,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “And the additional money families will spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way.”
The average benefit, which was $121 before COVID-19, will increase by $36 a month under the new policy, according to the USDA.
Unlike other aid packages during the COVID-19 pandemic, this increase to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, will be permanent according to the White House. It does not need Congressional approval. However, Republicans are already raising concerns about the increased costs.
According to reports, the Biden increase will increase the program’s costs by about $20 billion a year from pre-pandemic levels. “Thanks to the Biden Administration strengthening this important lifeline, parents will be able to afford healthy food for their families and children will not have to go to bed hungry,” U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.