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Food stamp benefits are going up because food prices are rising

Posted October 1, 2020 3:21 p.m. EDT

— Food stamp recipients will soon get more money to buy groceries due to the recent steep jump in food prices -- an automatic change that will help needy Americans as Congress continues to stall over additional relief.

The maximum benefit is going up 5.3% as of Thursday, the US Department of Agriculture said Thursday.

This year's annual cost-of-living increase is more than double the average 2% boost over the past 20 years. The bump is based on the average cost of a USDA-designed food plan in the proceeding June.

Grocery prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic, which has caused a surge in demand as millions of Americans stay home and avoid eating out. While there's no significant shortage of food, disruptions in the supply chain have created scarcities and driven up prices.

Congressional Democrats and consumer advocates have been pushing to increase the maximum benefit by 15% for months, but the measure has not made it into any coronavirus relief packages. Lawmakers have approved other enhancements to federal nutrition programs.

Under the cost-of-living bump, a typical household of four will receive $680 a month in food stamps, up from $646 a month. Nearly all states have opted to provide food stamp beneficiaries the maximum benefit for their household size, which was authorized by Congress in a coronavirus rescue bill in mid-March.

Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are formally known, will likely see the increase starting this month.

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