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September 22, 2021

USDA announces increase to CalFresh benefits

WATSONVILLE—Starting on Oct. 1, anyone receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, known in California as CalFresh, will see a slight increase to the amount they receive each month.

The changes to the federal Thrifty Food Plan comes thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and to President Joe Biden, who signed an executive order on Jan. 22. 

The USDA determined the change based on four key factors identified in the 2018 Farm Bill: current food prices, what Americans typically eat, dietary guidance and the nutrients in food items. 

The increase is the first of its kind since the plan was introduced in 1975, said Kimberly Petersen, Division Director for the Santa Cruz County Employment and Benefit Services.

According to Petersen, individuals before the change could potentially get $204 per month, while a family of four could get up to $680 per month.

Beginning Oct. 1, individuals can get up to $250 per month while a family of four could get $835 per month.

“This is a pretty significant increase,” she said.

The amount is determined by a variety of factors, including income, Petersen said.

People already receiving benefits don’t have to do anything, she said. 

The increase comes as the Temporary 15 Percent Benefit Increase is set to expire at the end of September, she added.

“We know that hunger has really been an issue nationwide but also in the local community, and we know the impacts on kids and their learning and adults and their health and well-being,” Petersen said. “So this increase will really help people in meeting their basic food needs.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that the increases are an “investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security.” 

“Ensuring low-income families have access to a healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs, and more.,” he said. “And the additional money families will spend on groceries helps grow the food economy, creating thousands of new jobs along the way.”

To apply for CalFresh benefits, call 888-421-8080 or online at getcalfresh.org.

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