Food stamp benefits are up 40 percent, the Department of Agriculture announced, as families across the nation grapple with lost jobs and struggle to get meals on the table.
The increase will “ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.
“President Trump is taking care of America’s working-class families who have been hit hard with economic distress due to the coronavirus. Ensuring all households receive the maximum allowable SNAP benefit is an important part of President Trump’s whole of America response to the coronavirus.”
The increase in SNAP benefits came as unemployment hit a record high, with over five million more workers filing claims during the week ending April 11.
In a bid to stem the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that emerged from mainland China last year, most states in the nation implemented harsh restrictions on travel, work, and life. That has led to a severe economic downturn.
Families of five receiving food stamps can typically get a maximum benefit of $768. Through the increase in emergency benefits, households of any size can get additional funds to take them to the maximum allotment. Families already at the maximum won’t get additional benefits.
SNAP normally costs the U.S. government approximately $4.5 billion each month. The allotments made under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which President Donald Trump signed, is adding nearly $2 billion per month to that total.
The emergency funds are made available through waivers the Department of Agriculture makes for each state.
The department’s announcement came after a group of 22 attorneys general and the attorneys general of New York City and the District of Columbia sent a letter (pdf) to Perdue, urging the Trump administration not to enact proposed rules for tightening qualifications for getting food stamps.
“Protecting access to food stamp benefits is crucial at a time when millions of people are suffering from job losses and hundreds of thousands are battling coronavirus. That’s why our coalition of State Attorneys General is calling on the Trump administration to immediately suspend the rulemaking,” Karl Racine, the attorney general of DC, said in a statement.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated details about the maximum benefit and increase in benefits under the emergency. The Epoch Times regrets the error.