NORFOLK, Va. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has re-evaluated its Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as the food stamp program.
As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase by about $36.24 per person, per month beginning on October 1, 2021.
“This is a game-changer because they have updated all the data,” said George Davis, professor of economics and nutrition at Virginia Tech. “This is going to be a permanent change.”
In Norfolk, the Berkley Supermarket just opened in September, in an area known to be a so-called food desert.
“We are prepared. We are excited for people to come out and use their food benefits,” said Mike Palmer, Jr., the catering and grocery manager at Berkley Supermarket.
Davis believes there should be further increases, but says this is a good start.
“What we know is food prices have increased a lot more than general inflation,” Davis added.
He did warn that it may not be a clear-cut increase for some families.
“It is possible that benefits will go down for some people. During COVID, there were a lot of other programs put into effect to help people and they were related to SNAP. For example, you may remember as part of SNAP, there was pandemic EBT. That means families were given money for the kids’ school meals,” explained Davis. “So that was added to the SNAP benefits. So, if some of those other benefits would go away, a person may be startled.”
You can find more information on SNAP at the Virginia Department of Social Services’ website.
To call for more information, dial 1-833-522-5582 or 1-866-281-2448.