USDA Announces Food Stamp Benefits to Go Up 15%

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says through the end of September, there will be a 15 percent increase in federal food assistance.

“It will provide additional help and assistance for struggling families,” Vilsack says. “To give you a sense of this, a family of four is going to receive under this extension and expansion about $102 each and every month for the next several months. Now that’s going to make a huge difference.” The total increase in food stamp payments will be three-and-a-half billion. That boost in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits is financed from the recently approved pandemic relief package.

“This is really significant,” Vilsack says. “About for every dollar that’s invested in SNAP, you get a $1.50 return in the economy.” Vilsack and Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala (COMMA-luh) Harris, visited the Food Bank of Iowa Monday.

“Hunger is a real issue in this country,” Emhoff said. “I’ve already traveled to several food banks and other organizations both in DC and just last week in Nevada.” Emhoff is scheduled to visit similar organizations in Omaha today and in St. Louis on Wednesday. Food Bank of Iowa officials introduced Emhoff to a small group of volunteers who work in urban and rural Iowa.

“During this pandemic when the need for food in the United States of America, when you wouldn’t think that would be an issue in this country, but it is, to do the work that you’ve done, day in and day out, I thank you,” Emhoff said. Food insecurity in Iowa doubled at this time a year ago according to Food Bank of Iowa statistics. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, was along for Monday’s Food Bank tour. She says the pandemic highlighted the need for more food processing and distribution on a regional basis.

“To allow us to be able to produce food closer to home and be able to process it there and bring it to market,” Axne says. “…Centralization of the market really has caused some problems for Iowa and in particular in our rural communities who’ve lost a lot of economic viability as a result of that.” A spokesman for the Republican National Committee said sending Emhoff and Vilsack to Des Moines can’t distract from the pork barrell spending in the American Rescue Plan that has nothing to do with directly combatting Covid.