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Are SNAP benefits the same as food stamps?


The covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent inflation that has come with the economic rebound placed put a lot of stress on household finances. For families that are struggling to make ends meet, they may be able to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously called Food Stamps.

The program is the largest food assistance program in the United States, with over 41 million people receiving benefits. That number is an increase of nearly 6 million since before the pandemic, when the program reached its lowest number of participants in 10 years in 2019.

How does SNAP work?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits play a crucial role in the US social security system, which is funded by the US Department of Agriculture. However, the benefits are distributed by individual states, causing the amount of aid received by recipients to vary across the nation. In October, the program experienced its largest boost everincreasing the average benefit per person by $36 to a total of $121.

Benefits are generally loaded onto Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards on a monthly basis, with each state determining the payment schedule. Recipients can only use the EBT cards at certain stores, and the benefits can only be used to buy select items. For example, they can’t be used to buy hot pre-prepared meals except by specific groups and then only in certain states. A Pilot program that began in 2019 allows food stamp recipients to purchase online through authorized stores.

Who can receive SNAP food stamps?

Each state sets the eligibility criteria for participation in the program. The program is aimed at low-income Americans, providing them with the ability to purchase nutritious food and avoid food insecurity. The USDA has identified three main requirements that state agencies must adhere to and offers a resource for residents of all states and territories to locate the agency responsible for distributing SNAP benefits.

States encouraged to call food stamps SNAP

To fight the stigma around SNAP in 2008, the Food Stamp Act of 1977, which is the basis of the modern-day program, was changed to the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008. By law, the name of the federal program was changed to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. States were encouraged to change their program’s name to SNAP or another alternate name, but they still maintained the flexibility of what to call their program.

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