Biden's about to raise food stamps to $157 a month from $121 - the biggest boost ever

Biden's about to raise food stamps to $157 a month from $121 - the biggest boost ever
President Joe Biden speaks about prescription drug prices and his "Build Back Better" agenda from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021, in Washington. Associated Press/Evan Vucci
  • Biden is set to announce the largest-ever boost to food stamps on Monday, the NYT reports.
  • The average monthly benefit will rise to $157 per person from $121. That's about 40 cents per meal.
  • A 15% boost to food stamps was set to lapse on September 30, but Biden's move offsets that.

President Joe Biden is expected to announce the largest-ever boost to food stamps on Monday, permanently increasing aid for the roughly 42 million Americans on the program.

The average monthly benefit will climb to $157 per person from $121, The New York Times reported, citing an administration official. That translates to an increase of roughly 40 cents per meal. For a family of four, the maximum benefit will rise to $835 per month, up about 21% from the pre-pandemic limit.

The increase will take effect on October 1.

The move is one of the ways Biden can increase aid for Americans without Congressional approval. The Agriculture Department will increase payments through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by updating its list of foods needed for a healthy diet.

Biden's increase ends a process that began in his first days in office. In a late January executive order, the president called on the USDA to review the Thrifty Food Plan, which includes the list of foods that determines SNAP payments. The administration argued the plan didn't accurately reflect households' nutritional and financial needs.


The food plan was originally set to be updated by 2022, but the Biden order sped up that process and is now set to bring higher benefits before the end of the year.

The fiscal cliff looms large

The announcement comes just weeks before enhanced SNAP benefits were set to lapse at the end of September. Congress approved a 15% supplement to the program at the end of last year, and Biden's move will offset that boost's expiration and leave SNAP beneficiaries with permanently higher payments.

The September deadline was part of a larger set of expirations known as the "fiscal cliff." A slew of pandemic-era support programs was set to end in September, with Republicans arguing the economic recovery made such aid obsolete.

Some, like the freeze to student loan payments, were recently extended to avoid a sudden pullback in government support. Others, like the federal eviction moratorium, weren't re-upped and have raised concerns around reversing aid while virus cases rebound. The Biden administration renewed some parts of the eviction ban in a last-ditch effort earlier in August, but legal battles risk canceling the extension.

The boost to food stamps hasn't come without its share of backlash. Ranking members on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees asked the Government Accountability Office last week to review the White House's process for updating the Thrifty Food Plan.


The administration will publish the results of its review soon and is prepared to brief lawmakers on the matter, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told Politico in a statement.