RICHMOND – Governor Tim Kaine announced today that beginning April 1, Food Stamp benefits will increase 13.6 percent as a result of increased federal funding in the stimulus package just passed by Congress.
The maximum monthly allotment for a four-person household in Virginia, forinstance,will increase $80, from $588 to $668. The allotment goes up for all recipients. Also effective Wednesday, the Food Stamp Program in Virginia will become the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“This global economic recession is very personal for many Virginia families,” Governor Kaine said.“Virginia is in better shape than most of the country, but we are not immune. With the help of the Recovery Act funds, we will expand SNAP to better meet the nutritional needs of more Virginia families.”
The increase will be immediately applied to recipients’ benefits. Participants do not need to take any action to receive the increase. The increase in benefits will depend on the size of the household and available household income.
“No Virginia family should go hungry. During tough economic times, this increase will make such an important difference for those who need a little extra help putting nutritious food on the table,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Anthony Conyers Jr.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture every $5 in new food stamp benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending. SNAP continues to be the largest domestic nutrition assistance program, providing a vital supplement to the food budgets of more than 280,000 Virginia households each month. Today, participants access benefits with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, similar to debit cards – not stamps or coupons. Eligibility and application requirements for these benefits will remain the same.
“The name change will not affect a client’s benefits. Participants will continue to receive benefits as before and access them with the same electronic card at local authorized retailers and farmers’ markets. There is no new paperwork to complete. The benefit increase and the name change are automatic,” said VDSS Director of Benefit Programs Tom Steinhauser.
SNAP requirements for food that can be purchased remain the same as in the Food Stamp Program. Some things, such as alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, hot food, non-food items, vitamins or medicines and pet foods, are not allowed to be purchased with SNAP benefits.
“The new name more accurately reflects the program’s mission to provide supplemental food assistance and nutrition education to assist participants as they move to a healthier lifestyle and self-sufficiency,” Steinhauser said.