KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are going up this month for families in need. The increase of more than 25% began Oct. 1.

Benefit recipients will get on average an extra $36 a month on their EBT cards going forward. That equates to $157 a month instead of $121 a month. Around 42 million people are being impacted by the change, which is indefinite.

The average SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, has now risen more than 25% above prepandemic levels.

The Associated Press reported in August, when the increase in benefits was announced by USDA, that activists said the previous levels of prepandemic SNAP assistance simply weren’t enough, forcing many households to choose cheaper, less nutritious options or simply go hungry as the funds ran low toward the end of the month.

The change made by the USDA and supported by the Biden administration pivoted on the reevaluation of the “Thrifty Food Plan” which is what is used in order to calculate SNAP benefits. USDA said in an August release the change reflected current cost realities.

“As directed by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill – and with the expressed support of President Biden’s January 22 Executive Order – USDA conducted a data-driven review of the Thrifty Food Plan,” the release states. “The resulting cost adjustment is 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 benefits provide nutritional assistance to children and families as well as the elderly, those with disabilities, unemployed and working families. In Tennessee, the Department of Human Services staff determines the eligibility of applicants based on guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To see if you’re eligible for SNAP benefits, Tennesseans can visit the DHS website and learn more.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.