Ricketts: Not Taking Extra SNAP Benefits Sign of Returning to Normal

Sept. 9, 2020, 4:08 p.m. ·

Gov. Pete Ricketts speaks Wednesday (Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News)

Listen To This Story


Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday Nebraska is no longer participating in a program to increase food aid to low-income families because the state’s trying to get people used to the idea that things are returning to normal.

At a news conference Wednesday, Ricketts was asked why Nebraska was the only state in the nation last month not participating in a federal program to maximize benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP – formerly known as Food Stamps.

"We want to get people used to the idea of ‘Hey we’re going back to a more normal life.’ Right? Unemployment rate’s coming down. We’ve got the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country. Our state through the first quarter was the least impacted economically state in the country… what you want to do is start stepping things down and this is part of that. Again, we’re getting back to a more normal life and there (are) still resources out there through other channels to be able to help people out,” Ricketts said.

Ricketts mentioned unemployment insurance and federal aid to food banks as examples of other programs. And he said the SNAP program is different.

“The regular SNAP program is a program that is based on income. So if you are a lower income person, then you’re going to be more likely to be eligible for the maximum benefit,” he said.

Under the regular SNAP program, a family of four with an income up to about $34,000 per year gets an average benefit of about $500 per month. Under the emergency program, in which Nebraska participated until August, that maximum benefit rose to about $650 per month. But it’s now back to $500, unless the state reapplies for the additional federal aid.