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Coronavirus SNAP Benefits: How the Pandemic Has Affected the Program

States are helping to provide food assistance

structuresxx/ iStock via Getty Images Plus

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increased need for food assistance, and states have been relying on temporary food assistance flexibility to help provide emergency benefits.

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SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It’s a federal program that helps put food on the table for low-income families. The coronavirus pandemic has caused many businesses to close down and forced people into unemployment, making it difficult for families to afford basic needs. This program offers assistance for these kind of situations.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act went into effect on April 1 and allows states to temporarily modify regulations to make it easier for families to either continue their benefits or apply for the SNAP program. The act temporarily suspended SNAP’s three-month limit on benefits for unemployed individuals under the age of 50 without children across the nation.

This act also allows states to file requests to provide meal replacement benefits through SNAP, also known as Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer or P-EBT. This helps households with children who attend a school that is closed for at least five days and who would have received free or reduced-priced meals, replacing lost meals during the 2019-2020 school year.

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There are more ways states are making their SNAP programs more flexible, such as by extending deadlines for paperwork and allowing people to apply over the phone. But if you want to know whether you’re eligible for the SNAP programs, here’s how to determine whether you qualify.