US increases food stamp aid for poorer Americans

A woman shops for groceries

The Biden administration has increased the amount of government-provided food assistance distributed to approximately one-in-8 Americans each month.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday announced an increase of over 25% for funds used to buy food.

The increased budget will be available starting in October to the 42 million people who receive food stamps – known formally as Snap benefits.

The average benefit will increase by about $36 (£26) per person, per month.

Americans enrolled in the programme will see their monthly pre-pandemic allowance rise from $121 to about $157.

In 2018, Congress ordered the USDA to review the Thrifty Food Plan, a diet plan created in 1962 which outlines nutritional needs for Americans and what budget is necessary to achieve them.

The update is the largest permanent funding boost in the programme’s history.

The agency’s newest revisions to the plan include an increase in calories “to reflect the latest data and support an active lifestyle,” the USDA said. They also reflect current food prices and eating trends.

Experts say the budget has not been enough for Americans to choose healthier foods, instead choosing salty and sugary options. One study has found that 10% of the money is spent on sugary drinks alone – about three times the amount spent on milk.

The newest budget calls for Americans to eat more fish “and red and orange vegetables”, the USDA said.

The funding boost comes amid an effort by President Joe Biden to bolster the country’s social safety net.

Americans must be below certain income limits in order to be eligible for the programme – for a four-person household, their net monthly income can’t be above $$2,184.

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