Starting this Friday, Mississippians enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will see their benefits increase by 21% over pre-pandemic benefit levels.
The increase comes as the result of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) re-evaluation of the ‘Thrifty Food Plan,’ which is used to calculate benefits. The resulting cost adjustment marks the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances over the past 45 years.
SNAP serves over 421,000 individuals in Mississippi each month, providing food assistance to financially eligible households. This increase in SNAP benefits is separate from the additional pandemic supplementary benefits SNAP households are currently receiving of at least $95.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services provided the following examples outlining the increases:
- A one-person household that received the maximum amount of $204 in 2020 will receive $250 in 2021.
- A four-person household that received the maximum amount of $680 in 2020 will receive $835.
“This increase will help 421,000 Mississippians access healthier food options, which help reduce health related issues stemming from limited access to nutritious food,” stated Bob Anderson, Executive Director of MDHS.
In its re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, the USDA considered the latest available data on the four key factors identified in Congress’ 2018 Farm Bill: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance, and the nutrients in food items.
The revised plan includes more fish and red and orange vegetables, to align with recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. The plan also includes a modest increase in calories to reflect the latest data and support an active lifestyle.
To check eligibility for SNAP benefits, the SNAP pre-screening tool is accessible here: https://www.access.ms.gov/. MDHS is working with UDSA to make necessary changes to implement the new benefits and provide additional information as the USDA makes it available.
To apply for SNAP, Mississippians must submit an application to the Department of Human Services office in their home county. The application is available online, or individuals may request an application by phone, in person, or by mail from their local county office.
For more information on the SNAP program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/economic-assistance/snap/.