Changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — commonly known as food stamps — will go into effect in October, removing one of the boosts provided by emergency pandemic funds and instituting an overall increase to its base rate.
The 15% increase to pre-pandemic benefits provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expires Sept. 30, and changes to the Thrifty Food Plan, the basis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s formula for determining food stamp benefits that were announced in August go into effect in October.
The result, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, will be that many Hoosiers using SNAP will see a slight increase to their total monthly benefit.
But with so many changes happening at once, things might get a little confusing. Here’s what you need to know.
What is SNAP?
SNAP, colloquially referred to as food stamps, is a federal nutritional assistance program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Indiana, it’s overseen by the Family and Social Services Administration’s Department of Family Resources. The program’s goal is to make nutritional food more readily accessible to low-income families.
In July, the month for which most recent data is available from the FSSA, 624,959 Hoosiers received nearly $144 million in SNAP benefits.
Why is the 15% SNAP increase ending?
The 15% increase was a piece of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which ends Sept. 30.
Is the new SNAP increase on top of the current emergency pandemic rates?
No. The increase is to the base rate, so the amount maximum benefits would have been before the 15% increase provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Those base rates are determined by the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan.
What is the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan?
The USDA outlines four budgets using dietary guidelines, intake recommendations and the consumer price index to suggest general costs of healthy diets. The Thrifty Food Plan is the lowest-cost plan. While the plans are adjusted for inflation and an annual cost-of-food analysis, the Thrifty Food Plan’s purchasing power hadn’t increased since it was first instituted in the mid-1970s.
The updated plan includes a 21% increase in budget, which would result in an average monthly increase of $36.24 for those enrolled in the program. The USDA projected Indiana could see as much as $298 million in additional benefits in the next fiscal year.
Indiana hunger relief advocates told IndyStar in August when the changes were announced the changes would result in an average increase of 40 cents per person, per meal.
What are the new SNAP monthly maximums?
The new SNAP monthly maximums are the result of the updated food plan. The new maximum monthly allotments by household size, effective Oct. 1, are:
- 1: $250
- 2: $459
- 3: $658
- 4: $835
- 5: $992
- 6: $1,190
- 7: $1,316
- 8: $1,504
- Each additional person: add $188
Aren’t all Hoosier households receiving maximum SNAP benefits?
Yes — for now. Since last spring, emergency allotments have resulted in all Hoosiers, regardless of income, receiving the maximum benefit for their household size. However, that’s not a permanent increase. It will end 30 days after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s emergency declaration expires or the national public health emergency ends, whichever comes first.
When that happens, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service estimates Americans in states currently receiving those emergency allotments — including Indiana — will see a decrease of $95 or more each month.
When can I expect to see the increase?
The base rate increase goes into effect in October, so you’ll notice a difference whenever you would regularly receive your monthly benefit, which is distributed on a rotating schedule based on last initial.
What if I have more questions?
If you have additional questions or questions specific to your situation, reach out to your local Department of Family Resources Office. Visit in.gov/fssa/dfr/ebt-hoosier-works-card/find-my-local-dfr-office to find contact information for the office nearest you.
Where can I sign up for SNAP in Indiana?
To learn more about SNAP in Indiana and to see if you meet the eligibility requirements, visit in.gov/fssa/dfr/snap-food-assistance/about-snap.