Increase to SNAP benefits first in more than 45 years

Food and groceries in green eco-friendly reusable shopping bag on wood table with blurred suppermarket aisle in background

Special to the Herald Times

RBC I Coloradans participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will see their monthly benefits increase beginning Oct. 1. SNAP serves more than 250,000 households and 499,000 individuals in Colorado each month, providing food assistance benefits to safeguard the well-being of low-income, financially eligible households.

The change will reflect a 21% increase from the base calculation from pre-pandemic levels. This means the amount households receive, excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief, will go up by an average of $36.24 per person per month, or $1.19 per day. The new maximum benefit will rise to $835 a month for a family of four.

“This increase will help ensure low-income families have access to a healthy diet, which helps prevent disease, reduces health care costs and supports children in the classroom, among other benefits,” said Colorado SNAP manager Teri Chasten. “The additional money families will have to spend on food will also help Colorado’s economy, especially in the agriculture industry.” 

The increase is the result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to calculate SNAP benefits. The resulting cost adjustment marks the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.

In its re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, the USDA considered the latest available data on the four key factors identified in Congress’ 2018 Farm Bill: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance, and the nutrients in food items.

The revised plan includes more fish and red and orange vegetables, to align with recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. The plan also includes a modest increase in calories to reflect the latest data and support an active lifestyle.

Colorado also continues to receive the pandemic-related emergency allotment (also known as max allotment), which brings all households up to the maximum amount of monthly SNAP benefits they can receive, with a minimum of a $95 extra benefit. At this time, the emergency allotment will end on Dec. 31, when the national public health emergency ends, or when Colorado no longer has an emergency or recovery order in place that meets the USDA’s criteria to request additional assistance.

Coloradans currently participating in SNAP will not need to take any action and will receive the new amount automatically beginning with October benefit payments. Coloradans who are experiencing hunger or are struggling to afford nutritious food and are not currently participating in SNAP can apply at any time at their local human services office, by calling Hunger Free Colorado’s Hunger Hotline at 855-855-4626 or 2-1-1, or online at the Colorado PEAK website.

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