The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently took action to provide $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to an estimated 25 million people in very low-income households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Starting this month, households that had not received at least $95 per month in increased benefits through emergency allotments during the pandemic — because they were already at or close to receiving the current maximum benefit — will now be eligible to receive additional benefits. Benefit levels will remain unchanged for households that have been receiving increased payments of at least $95 per month.

The USDA said states may need a few weeks to update their systems and get the additional benefits to participants.

“The emergency SNAP increases authorized by Congress last year were not being distributed equitably, and the poorest households — who have the least ability to absorb the economic shocks brought about by COVID — received little to no emergency benefit increases,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release.

California is estimated to see an increase in total benefits of $119.5 million per month, or $717.1 million over a six-month period.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized emergency allotments to SNAP households to help address temporary food needs during the pandemic. Since the pandemic began, USDA has issued about $29 billion in additional benefits to bring all SNAP households up to the maximum benefit for their household size.

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