Long Island nonprofit says SNAP increase will benefit local families struggling due to pandemic
The Biden administration has approved the largest single increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and a local nonprofit organization says this will have a major impact on Long Island families struggling amid the pandemic.
Rebecca Sanin, the CEO and president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, says seniors, children, families and people with disabilities will benefit from the permanent increase in SNAP benefits.
"SNAP benefits are dollars in people's pockets used to purchase food to feed their families, that then gets invested in our local economy,” she says.
The Biden administration says the largest increase in SNAP will take effect starting in October, with a 27% increase.
According to the USDA, that means people who use SNAP benefits will see $36 more in their average monthly benefits. The benefit will go up to $169 per person, compared to the $121 people were getting before the pandemic.
Sanin says because of the job losses caused by the pandemic, many more people have had to rely on assistance to get enough food for their families. She says with the cost of living on Long Island being as high as it is, the increase in SNAP benefits is a step in the right direction.
"People who were struggling before the pandemic are now in crisis, and we also now have a whole new cohort of folks who have never relied on any kind of benefits before, but are hungry,” she says.
Sanin says as of May of this year, almost 90,000 Long Island households were getting SNAP benefits. This includes more than 28,000 households in Nassau and more than 60,000 in Suffolk.
"We're making sure that people have better access to food and food that makes sense for them,” Sanin says.
The increase adds about $20 billion to the cost of the SNAP program. Some Republicans are questioning the increase and have requested a review.