Louisiana food stamp benefits grow under virus aid package
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana families are eligible for a 15% boost in their food stamp benefits through June, under the federal coronavirus aid package passed by Congress.
The state said any increases due to people receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP or more commonly as food stamps, started being transferred to benefit cards Friday.
The latest federal coronavirus legislation didn’t expand eligibility for food stamps. But The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that state officials said several key provisions will increase SNAP’s reach.
Shavana Howard, an assistant secretary for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, said the program will no longer count federal extended unemployment benefits as income, which previously put SNAP out of reach for 44,165 applicants between March and July and ousted 2,185 households receiving benefits. Howard said many students who also did not qualify for food stamps because a portion of their parents’ income was counted against them will qualify this time.
“I am very excited to see that Congress really acted for the people who really need the help,” Howard said.
In Louisiana, a family of three, would previously have received a maximum allotment of $535 per month, but will now get $616 for qualifying food purchases.
Hunger has soared in Louisiana since the onset of the pandemic, and the problem worsened as the state was hit with storm after storm during a record 2020 hurricane season. From February to November, the state added 95,228 households to food stamp rolls and finished November with 456,000 households receiving SNAP benefits, an increase of 26%.