SNAP Benefits to Increase; Application Requirements Eased

April 7, 2020, 5:43 p.m. ·


Listen To This Story

Nebraskans eligible for SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or Food Stamps – will get increased benefits and eased administrative requirements, Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Tuesday.

Ricketts made the announcement at his daily news conference on the state’s coronavirus response. Stephanie Beasley, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, explained the rationale.

“We are focused on continuing to support Nebraskans impacted by COVID-19 and addressing needs. We're concerned with the financial impact across Nebraska, and believe our efforts will increase food security during this crisis,” Beasley said.

Under the changes, the department said, a family of three will be eligible for $509 per month. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says last year, the average benefit for a family that size was $365. The increase will be effective for April and May. Beasley said people whose benefits would have expired during those months now won’t have to reapply for another six months.

“This change will allow us to increase our focus on processing initial SNAP applications, as our SNAP applications increased over 35% in March from February,” she said.

Beasley said SNAP recipients will be able to order groceries for delivery from Walmart and Amazon. Some requirements to interview for benefits will be waived, if there’s clear evidence of eligibility. A limit of three months of benefits for any three-year period for able-bodied people who are not working will be waived, but those people will still have to look for work if they don’t have dependent children, and will lose benefits if they refuse a job offer.

SNAP benefits are federally-funded. The changes announced Tuesday were authorized by Congress. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, whose mission statement says it pursues policies “to reduce poverty and inequality and to restore fiscal responsibility in equitable and effective ways,” said most other states have already approved them.