Almost 848,000 people in Tennessee will see their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits go up by about 21% starting today.
Recipients of the program formerly known as food stamps will receive, on average, an extra $36 a month on their EBT cards going forward.
Peter Martino, chief development officer at the Martha O’Bryan Center, an anti-poverty agency that runs the largest food bank in Nashville, said food insecurity remains high.
“The demand at our food bank remains elevated,” Martino said. “It’s not gone down to pre-pandemic level by any means.”
The increase is automatic; no new paperwork is required. The increase was triggered by a Biden administration revision of a program known as the Thrifty Food Plan, which listed the types and amounts of food necessary for a healthy diet and had not been changed since 1975.
Many things have changed since then, from dietary recommendations to food costs. Martino said SNAP benefits should have been raised long ago.
“The funding level for SNAP in 2019 was not adequate for feeding families,” Martino said. “And so, anything that can maintain or increase that level is definitely going to help.”
A report from the Government Accountability Office showed about 94,000 working adults in Tennessee receive SNAP benefits. As recipients spend the extra SNAP money, the program is expected to inject $612 million into the state’s economy.