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Biden Boosts Food Stamps to $169/Month/Person

Good news for South Dakota farmers who grow food for humans—the Biden Administration is making sure more of your products get to hungry Americans with the biggest boost ever for food stamps:

Food stamp benefits will jump 27% above pre-pandemic levels, on average, starting in October — the largest increase in the program’s history, the Biden administration announced Monday.

The boost, which advocates say is long overdue, stems from an update to the Thrifty Food Plan, which determines the benefit amounts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the formal name for food stamps. The plan estimates the cost of groceries needed to provide a budget-conscious diet for a family of four.

…Under the revision, which is permanent, beneficiaries will see a $36 hike in average monthly benefits. They received $121 per person before the coronavirus pandemic.

Including the annual cost of living adjustment, which is based on food price inflation and kicks in every October, the average monthly benefit will jump to $169 per person, the agency said [Tami Luhby, “Historic Increase in Food Stamp Benefits Is on the Way,” CNN, 2021.08.16].

$169 per person per month—that’s about $42 a week. My grocery cost meter is still stuck 30 years in the past, in Brookings, when I first bought my own groceries and found I could get a week’s worth of bike fuel at County Market for $20 spent with a keen eye for discounts. I’m still surprised when I go to Kessler’s here in Aberdeen and find $20 barely gets me a box of cereal, a jug of milk, and fixins for three days of lunch. But according to this food inflation data, even my spartan $20 grocery bill from 1990 would equal about $40.50 today. So using me as a baseline, $42 a week to make sure every family member eats seems pretty reasonable.

And don’t forget, I’m a stingy baseline. I still buy groceries based more on mass per dollar than on actual health input. When left to my own devices (i.e., when cooking for myself and not picking up groceries for my wife’s fine cooking) I almost never buy “organic” alternatives, because they cost more than salty, sugary, processed alternatives. That’s not a recipe for a healthy America.

A study from the USDA in June found 88% of SNAP recipients saying they have trouble getting a healthy diet. 61% of SNAP recipients say the cost of healthy food is a significant barrier to their eating well. President Biden’s boost to SNAP should help more Americans not just eat more but eat better.

17 Comments

  1. Porter Lansing 2021-08-17

    As chef it’s forbidden for me to comment on Cory’s food choices.

    As a non-medical professional it’s irrelevant for me to comment on Cory’s food choices.

    As a friend, it’s unfriendly for me to comment on Cory’s food choices.

    So, never mind. #grins

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-08-17

    Porter, I eat what I eat, and I eat better when my wife does the cooking.

    But I’m keenly aware that my neighbors deserve the same right to choose a healthy diet for themselves and for their kids, and they can’t do that if they don’t have some minimum level of income.

  3. Porter Lansing 2021-08-17

    Of course you do, CAH.

    On the subject of food stamps, why are coffee, soda pop, potato chips and candy SNAP eligible but fried chicken and prepared deli pasta salad aren’t?

    The rule is only food that needs to be prepared at home is allowed, not already prepared and ready to eat in the car.

    I believe the answer is America’s worst humans. Lobbyists!

  4. Porter Lansing 2021-08-17

    BTW – A senior, who’s only income is their Social Security Retirement Insurance, gets $234.00 in food stamps monthly, before the Joe “Steady” Biden increase.

    That’s in Colorado.

    Hard saying how much Noem and Pierre take away from seniors and the disabled, just to be mean to those who can’t afford to defend themselves.

  5. Arlo Blundt 2021-08-17

    Well…Porter, you are so correct about the Republican misapplication of what they believe is “tough love”. They love the low income elderly and working poor so much they are willing to starve them, make them homeless, deprive them of heat in the winter, and relief in the hottest of summer months. The elderly, the poor, the disabled, in their jaundiced view, just need to “tighten their belts” even when they have no belt to tighten.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-08-17

    Well a few years ago I took picture in Kesslers, I got the ammunition and the whiskey together to show my friends what one stop shopping is in So. Dak.

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-08-17

    You know Cory, when food stamps first came out I was a student in Vermin town living in a trailer. My roommate and I applied and got them. Apparently they didn’t check that well back then. We used them once late at night when nobody was around at the supermarket near the road to lower Vermillion. We bought steaks and never used them again We were too embarrassed. They check much better now but thats the important thing. The steaks didn’t taste that well either.

  8. John 2021-08-17

    Corey and friends,
    Here’s a hint on how to eat.
    No GPS. Grains, potatoes, refined sugar.
    Yet, consider that wild rice is the grain highest in protein and is largely in an unrefined state. I order a 50# box. Mallard.
    Consider that yams, and small red and blue potatoes are more nutritious than the empty carb white monsters.
    Consider honey as a total substitute for refined sugar. Fruit works too.
    The Doctor nails it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ (18 minutes)

  9. Guy 2021-08-17

    $2 Trillion we blew on a war in Afghanistan that helped land us into the large debt hole we are still in. However, we have a problem with funds to feed some of our people and build affordable housing for them. Just for a moment, can you imagine if we never set foot in either Iraq or Afghanistan and actually spent those trillions of dollars to help our own people? The affordable homes we could have built by now along with safer roads, bridges, a hardened electric grid and a vast rural broadband network? Imagine ALL of the people who would no longer be homeless, including veterans, and access to nutritious food. But, alas, we had to blow it on two destructive and thankless wars that accomplished very little in the decades we fought them. Just imagine if we had learned from Vietnam how far ahead we would be as society today. . .

  10. Arlo Blundt 2021-08-17

    Well..Guy, we must disabuse ourselves of the notion that we can fight Asians in Asia and somehow coerce them into embracing democracy…We tried in Viet Nam, Lebanon, failed, and then listened to the Bush’s, Chaney and Donald Rumsfeld convince us to carry on the crusade in Kuwait (when was the election in Kuwait???) and Iraq (they were going to dance in the streets, treat us as heroes, and, according to Chaney, join us in a campaign to free Iran and Syria from tyrants). Then, GW became convinced we should “nation build” in the “graveyard of Empires, Afghanistan”. It has ended as it ended for Alexander the Great, the Persians, the British and the Russians. Add us to the list. Afghanistan will continue as the poorest, most economically and socially backward country on the globe….but they will have our Humvees and artillery. 2500 of our young men dead and an unknown number wounded and disabled for the privilege of our learning the limits to our military power…if we care to learn.

  11. Guy 2021-08-17

    Arlo, it’s my hope that after three huge debacles that most people wake up and see right through the war profit-making as President Eisenhower warned us about. If we ever get ourselves as throwing our power around and disavow ourselves from listening to the people who profit off war, we can finally get on with the business of coming together and investing in ourselves and future generations. That’s my hope anyway.

  12. Porter Lansing 2021-08-17

    Biden knows enough, through experiencing what we’re remembering, not to listen to the Pentagon.

    When the military runs low on Sergeants that have been in actual combat, the Generals convince the President to start a war.

    The President thinks it’s for the good of Democracy but the Generals know it’s just for practice.

  13. Guy 2021-08-17

    President Biden having to clean up George W. Bush’s 20 year mess. Too bad it took this long, but, at least Biden is doing it and standing squarely by his decision. He said the “buck stops with him,” something you never heard come from Bush’s lips. Bush let his subordinate staff take the fall for many of his missteps, including President Obama and President Trump when it came to propping up his continuing War in Afghanistan. Yep, President Biden is cleaning up George W. Bush’s 20 year mess.

  14. Guy 2021-08-18

    Fellow Americans who can not afford nutritious food at this time do need our help. I do not see these programs as some would call “entitlements”. Most of us pay our taxes and there have been times when most of us, including myself, have fallen on bad times and need assistance from these programs we help to fund with our taxes. I’ve seen hard working Americans, including Veterans, who need help from time to time. One thing I can say about President Biden is that he’s trying his best to bring us back to focusing on building our own nation and helping those in need when they most need the help. That approach is positive and constructive instead of negative and destructive. There does need to be a boost in funding for many of these programs, including food stamps. There are a lot of hungry people out there that need our help and you never know if and when you might be one of them.

  15. Richard Schriever 2021-08-18

    Still doesn’t address the issue of getting to a store that has healthy – or even any sort of variety of food for sale for the poor folks in rural America. I recall being a Food stamp recipient in a large metro area (Los Angeles) where all the healthy food I could want was just a 2 block walk away. I gained 40 lbs. that year. (The neighbors inviting me over for dinner occasionally had something to do with it as well) Compare that to my being a food stamp recipient in rural SD where the nearest place that would accept said stamps was a 5 mile walk – and I would struggle to call it a grocery. I lost 40 lbs. that year. A friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years picked me up while I was walking down the highway and remarked they could barely recognize me – I was like a stick figure. (No neighbors within a half-mile – but I did supplement with the occasional wedding or funeral attendance.)

  16. Richard Schriever 2021-08-18

    Rural residents of the US not only have a higher rate of poverty to Urban residents, they are (by distance) even more deserted by grocery providers. There ain’t no $1.35 bus ticket plus transfer that might take a rural resident 10-12 miles to a decent grocery.

  17. Guy 2021-08-18

    Richard, they are called “food deserts.” When I worked in co-op development, we helped to start a few grocery co-ops in rural towns that lacked a grocery store. This is where a COOPERATIVE can answer the call and provide essential services for the community.

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