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Changes to SNAP Mean More Benefits Are on the Way to Virginia Families

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Struggling families across Virginia are about to get a little more help. People who receive food assistance are about to see a moderate increase.

Families that receive food stamps in Virginia now have benefits that will last a little longer into the month thanks to new rules governing the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Victor Chen at Virginia Commonwealth University says the program has been almost unchanged since it was created in the 1970’s.

"But now many more women work in the paid labor force, and the amount of time that's available to families to feed themselves is less," Chen explains. "And also the cost of food has changed dramatically since that period of time. So it's a different calculation than was possible back in 1975 and also conditions have changed in terms of how families provide food for themselves."

The increased benefits come just as a pandemic-related boost is expiring, with the end result being about a 6% increase. This also comes at a time when Virginia is expanding eligibility.

Salaam Bhatti at the Virginia Poverty Law Center says figuring all this stuff out can be confusing.

"We definitely encourage people to visit our calculator to see if they're eligible for SNAP under these new rules and with the new rules under the Thrifty Food Plan how much they could potentially receive in benefits if they're eligible," Bhatti says.

The new rules around the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts — that’s a permanent change — and the largest increase in the history of the program.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.