Some college students among newly eligible for SNAP benefits

Some college students among newly eligible for SNAP benefits

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -President Donald Trump signed a bill on Dec. 27, 2020, that increases SNAP maximum allotments by nearly 15% from January through June 2021, in response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Recently enacted federal legislation may also make more Louisianans eligible for SNAP by excluding both federal unemployment benefits and stimulus checks from consideration as income. It would also expand student eligibility.

Louisiana’s food stamp benefits will see a 15-percent increase for the next six months.

“For a household of 3 for example, this increase would be about 81 dollars. So, instead of seeing 535 dollars their households would typically see...they’re now going to see 616 dollars in benefits because of the changes in that stimulus package,” said Louisiana DCFS Asst. Secretary Shavana Howard.

The increase is part of the 900 billion dollar Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act passed by Congress in December.

“Not only did it provide 15 percent increase for maximum benefits for SNAP but it also put forth some other provisions,” Howard said.

The bill included a boost in unemployment payments and new funding for rent and utility assistance programs that ran dry last year.

DCFS Assistant Secretary Shavana Howard says this new aid will make way for tackling food insecurity--something the first stimulus package did not.

“In response to the last stimulus...a little over 2,000 families were denied and 44,000 families deemed ineligible for SNAP benefits because of that unemployment stimulus benefit,” said Howard. “Those families that were previously denied would be eligible now.”

She says it also expands eligibility for some local college students.

“The bill allows for an additional provision which allows students who are enrolled at least half-time to receive benefits which is unprecedented quite honestly.”

Previously, students from families with an expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 were not automatically eligible for SNAP. The new law changes that. Pending further guidance from FNS, students will need to provide either their FAFSA paperwork which includes their EFC, or their proof of eligibility for work-study to DCFS when applying for SNAP.

Howard says in 2020, the department added nearly 180-thousand people to the SNAP program.--an increase of about 26 percent. She says the additional benefits can make a big difference for families in need.

“This is a huge deal for America and all those families that are really struggling to meet their basic needs.”

Extra benefits for those on programs like unemployment will run through March, or in some cases as late as April unless Congress approves another relief package sooner.

The additional benefits for January will be loaded onto current Louisiana SNAP recipients’ EBT cards on Friday, Jan. 8. For February through June, the extra benefits will be loaded at the same time as recipients’ regular benefit amount on their regularly-scheduled issuance date.

The amount of SNAP a household receives each month depends on the number of people in the household and the amount of their net income. The regular maximum SNAP allotments for 2021, along with the temporary increased maximums, are as follows: click HERE.

For more information about SNAP benefits changes, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/page/snap-updates. Information about applying for SNAP can be found at www.dcfs.la.gov/snap.

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