For many, the SNAP benefits provide an essential help in a time of crisis, especially with inflation set to increase further, according to financial projections by central banks. At the back end of last year, the Federal Reserve had described the high inflation as transitory, but the war in Ukraine and its fallout could entrench inflation in economies around the world. So for those involved in the financial markets, it’s becoming not only a poor investment to invest in domestic assets, but foreign assets are also slipping. Putting that aside, applying for SNAP benefits is not the most pleasurable or easy process in 2022. There is no central website for applications, so if you are without a phone, you are pretty much out of luck. I sure haven’t seen a pay phone around these days.
So let’s first answer the question of how you can apply for SNAP benefits. The SNAP program is administered by the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service program, however each state has their own unique application form. It is advised not to call the USDA or the US Health and Human Services headquarters directly, as only states handle applications and determine eligibility. Now those who are eligible and want to apply for the SNAP program will need to contact their local SNAP office. The USDA provides a useful national map where applicants can locate their respective state’s local office webpage or phone number, most which are toll-free, in order to sign up and obtain an EBT card.
Contact information for local offices can also be found in the telephone book in the state or local government pages. Applicants should look under “Food Stamps,” “Social Services,” “Human Services,” “Public Assistance,” or some other similar title. More information can be found on the USDA.gov website, which has links for further food insecurity help. Next question we will answer is who is eligible and how much could you receive? Eligibility for SNAP payments is based on three criteria. Claimants must have their maximum gross monthly income at or under 130% of the federal poverty level. To receive SNAP payments most claimants may not exceed $2,250 in countable resources, or money stored in bank accounts. And lastly, claimants must also be available to work.
According to USDA data as of January 7th, 2022, SNAP paid on average $243.42 per person and $460.64 per household. So for families of 4 people living in the 48 contiguous US states, including the District of Columbia, the maximum allocation for the year will be $835. In other news, in certain counties in Florida such as Escambia, residents are reporting delays in getting her SNAP benefits approved. One Pensacola mother had to go nearly a month without her SNAP benefits. News agencies have reached out to the Department of Children and Families for answers to these delays but with no success. Some agents are reportedly providing callers with fake promises of expediting the money within 3 days, but no signs of follow- through.
The next topic we will cover is the fact that many people receiving Food and Nutrition Services benefits in North Carolina could soon see their monthly allotments decrease in May if the Biden administration does not take action to extend the public health emergency declaration by the April 15th deadline. The benefits were increased under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which allowed states like North Carolina to waive certain eligibility requirements and give households the maximum amount for their household size, even if their income might traditionally qualify them for fewer FNS dollars, during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, states can only waive those requirements if both the federal government and the state have an emergency or disaster declaration in place.
If the Biden administration does not extend the federal public health emergency declaration by April 15th, those extra FNS dollars could disappear beginning in May, according to a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. However, the spokesperson said the department believed an extension was likely, and though the extra FNS benefits were not meant to be permanent, the department would work to provide them for "as long as allowable." If the benefits are allowed to expire, it could have the effect of driving up demand at local food banks and food pantries. Tina Postel, executive director of the Charlotte-based Loaves and Fishes food pantry network, said she believed demand could rise 5 to 7% if the benefits expired. It would also come as many food banks have been strained by rising food and gas prices. Postel said many items like peanut butter and ground turkey have become significantly more expensive, which has forced some older volunteers on fixed incomes to have to scale back the number of food deliveries they make due to the high cost of gas.