Increase to food stamp benefits could take weight off local food banks
The USDA is preparing to place $2 billion more a month into America's monthly food stamp pay outs. Officials say the move could take a heavy load off the new roles food banks are facing. Currently the monthly U.S. payout sits at $4.5 billion.
Feeding Kentucky Executive Director Tamara Sandberg says food banks have seen a 40% increase in their need since the pandemic. Meanwhile 22 million Americans are working through the unemployment process. Sandberg says many are visiting food banks for their first times in their lives. She believes the money added is the right decision to help others get and keep food on the table.
“The increase in SNAP benefits will help take some pressure off food banks and food pantries.," said Sandberg. "Food banks alone is not enough to put food on the table and we really need this government program to help.”
According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, Kentucky has seen a 5.8% increase in food stamp enrollment since the pandemic. The study cites layoffs as being the leading factor. Just over 500,000 Kentuckians use the programs.
Sandberg says the change handed down from the USDA was needed but needs to remain even after the virus dissipates.
“When the state of emergency is lifted, those needs are not going to automatically go away so it definitely needs to continue for months we believe," said Sandberg.
Just months ago nearly 40,000 Kentuckians were preparing to find work 20 hours a week to meet a new requirement pushed by the USDA and backed by President Trump. Those 40,000 would have been on the chopping block, they're now joining millions of others laid off and looking for jobs. The requirement was set to go into place April 1.