CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Families struggling to put food on the table will get more money for groceries soon.
The federal government has announced plans to permanently increase funding for food stamps, officially known as SNAP, by 25% starting in October. This will be the biggest increase in the program’s history.
The change applies to all 42 million SNAP recipients, including the more than 116,000 that live in Mecklenburg County.
The average recipient gets $121 per month. In October, that will increase to $157.
“It may only equate to $1.19 a day, but you have no idea, for families who are struggling and having to choose between buying potato chips or apples – they want to buy the fresh fruit and the fresh vegetables, but it’s cheaper to buy processed foods sometimes,” Tina Postel, CEO of Loaves and Fishes/Friendship Trays, told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “So every dollar that we can throw towards families who are struggling helps give them more choice in buying fresh, healthy food.”
Buying “fresh, healthy food” has gotten even more expensive since the pandemic started because of supply and demand issues. According to the most recent month tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of bread went up 2.3%; meat, poultry and fish went up 4.3%; and eggs went up 16%.
In a recent report, the Urban Institute said the average cost of a meal in Mecklenburg County was $2.53 and that the average SNAP benefit only covered $1.97. Even with the 25% increase, the total cost wouldn’t be covered, but it would be much closer.
“Any time that people have an opportunity for funding that allows them to shop at a grocery store themselves rather than having to drive through one of our mobile pantry lines, I’m going to be cheerleading their cause,” Postel said. “It means that we will have less people that need to come to an emergency food pantry in order to put food on their table.”
(WATCH: “You SNAP, We Match” program makes farmers market food more accessible)
©2021 Cox Media Group