FILE - Tom Vilsack 5-5-2021

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack holds up a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transfer (SNAP EBT) card during a news briefing at the White House, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in Washington.

(The Center Square) – An historic increase in Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits will be coming to Connecticut families beginning in October.

The United States Dept. of Agriculture announced Aug. 16 the organization has updated the Thrifty Food Plan amid ongoing inflation, which has driven the need for an increase in benefits to help feed families.

The Thrifty Food Plan report said “food prices inflated to June 2021" and "the cost of the Market Baskets” which costs a family $835.57 per month “saw a 21.03% increase from the last report to adjust current prices.” The Thrifty Food Plan report is published every five years.

Beginning Oct. 1, SNAP funds will increase by $36.24 per person, per month for the Fiscal Year 2022, the USDA said.

Roughly 472,000 Connecticut residents have utilized the SNAP program for at least one month in 2020, according to the state’s Department of Social Services. Nearly 42 million Americans currently receive benefits, the USDA said.

Brynne Keith-Jennings, a food assistance policy and researcher for Washington D.C.-based Center on Budget, shared on Twitter that, “this is particularly important for the outcomes of kids, and for Black and Latino households, who experience higher poverty and food insecurity rates due to structural factors, such as disparities in access to employment and education.

The USDA said, “SNAP benefits will rise an average of 25 percent – a permanent change that will benefit” recipients.

Meanwhile, Connecticut has collaborated with the Department of Education to earmark $61 million in “special food assistance benefits” that were began distribution in August to more than 193,000 schoolchildren enrolled in the free or reduced-price meals program.

The benefits, the department said, will “go to approximately 271,480 schoolchildren through the federal Pandemic EBT: Children in School program. The benefits will be distributed for children learning remotely for at least part of the month beginning in February through the end of the school year.

SNAP benefits can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, dairy products, breads and cereals, and snack foods, non-alcoholic beverages and seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat.

Items that cannot be purchased include beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco. Cleaning supplies, pet foods and hygiene items are also not included.

In a report from Center on Budget, the organization said “SNAP benefits increase food security. Research has found that low-income households’ food security improved after policymakers temporarily boosted SNAP benefits in response to the Great Recession.”

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.