Saturday, April 20, 2024

SNAP benefits decrease over past six months

by BIZ Magazine

Enrollment in Louisiana’s food assistance program has declined significantly over the past six months and has almost reached pre-pandemic levels. While the number of food stamp recipients continues to fall, roughly 800,000 people in Louisiana– nearly one in five residents – still rely on the program for groceries.

Formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as SNAP), food stamps are financed by the federal government to help low-income households afford food, with the money distributed through states’ social services departments. In Louisiana, the state provides monthly benefits to eligible households electronically through a debit-style card called the Louisiana Purchase Card.

According to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, 389,185 households were enrolled in SNAP in June 2022, the latest data available. The average payment given to households for the 2021-2022 state budget year was $500.

To receive SNAP benefits, a household must meet certain resource and income standards. Two factors determining SNAP benefit amounts are the number of persons in the household and their gross and net monthly income.

For more information about SNAP eligibility and benefits, click here.

From mid-2017 to early 2020, the number of SNAP recipients in the state steadily decreased. But the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically increased the reliance on food stamp benefits. 

Within the first three months of the coronavirus outbreak, the number of SNAP recipients increased by 76,904. The program saw its numbers reach a five-year high in January 2021 with 981,000 people relying on the food assistance.

Since then, the number of people on food stamps has fluctuated. As of June 2022, 801,000 people were enrolled in SNAP, declining to near the 770,000 people on food stamps before the pandemic.  

According to the latest information provided by the Department of Children and Family Services, 17.9% of Louisiana residents receive SNAP assistance. East Carroll Parish has the highest percentage of its residents enrolled in the program, with 33.2% of its people receiving food stamps. Cameron Parish has the lowest percentage of people on SNAP at 5.5%.  

In addition to the regular food stamp program, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Association Program, known as D-SNAP, helps low- and middle-income households afford food after suffering losses or damages from a natural disaster. D-SNAP benefits are only provided to states if a federal disaster declaration has been issued by the president. Louisiana paid out $80.7 million in D-SNAP aid during 2021 for Louisianans impacted by Hurricane Ida, the May floods and the February ice storm. 

For more information on D-SNAP registration and benefits click here.   

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