COVID-19

The latest pandemic relief measure increases SNAP benefits

Samantha Fields Jan 5, 2021
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The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity. Scott Heins/Getty Images
COVID-19

The latest pandemic relief measure increases SNAP benefits

Samantha Fields Jan 5, 2021
Heard on:
The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity. Scott Heins/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

As part of the latest COVID-19 relief package, Congress voted to increase benefits for everyone on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Starting this month, everyone on the program will get a 15% increase in their monthly benefits through June.

This is the second time since the pandemic began that Congress has voted to increase SNAP benefits. But the first time, the people who were most in need didn’t get an increase because they were already getting the maximum benefit. Those households will get more SNAP benefits now.

Adam Morgan at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank estimated it’ll be an extra $30 a month per person.

“It can help a parent eat while they’re also trying to make sure their kids eat,” Morgan said.

The increase in SNAP benefits, plus an additional $300 a month in federal unemployment benefits, should help reduce food insecurity, said Stacy Dean at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Evidence from the Great Recession was that increasing SNAP absolutely reduced food insecurity for the households who got the benefit,” Dean said.

The hunger relief organization Feeding America estimated that around 50 million people experienced food insecurity because of the pandemic in 2020.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

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As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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