SNAP (Food stamp) payments in the US need changed during the lockdowns and social distancing required during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SNAP, formerly called food stamps, is paid once a month in the US. Most families and elderly people genuinely needing and depending on this monthly payment to purchase food, shop differently than other people. Typically, they take their SNAP money as soon as it is received and use it to purchase needed staples to get them through a month. Then they buy other food throughout the month as they receive money from other sources such as minimum wage jobs that do not pay enough to support a family. How are they shopping now when they go in and the grocery store is out of things like milk? Most of them don’t have the money to go back into the grocery store every few days. A trip to the store and food planning for a month is a vital part of their lives. An increased payment to biweekly would be a great help in some cases. These people also need a temporary increase as places are price gouging now or at least minimum food allowance per household as well. They had no disposable income to begin with to purchase extras like Tylenol or flu medicine to get them through if they become ill. They had no disposable income to buy a little extra in case the only adult in the house who can prepare meals becomes ill. They had no disposable income to buy an extra case of diapers or formula. WIC needs a temporary increase as well. I understand it is more costly on the surface to increase the frequency of payments or the minimum amount. But in the long run, it is cheaper to keep children as well as adults fed and healthy than in the emergency room and hospitals or in the foster care system because their parent is deceased or unable to care for them while in the hospital.

Not everyone you see in the grocery store line with a cartful of food and supplies is a hoarder. SNAP beneficiaries are often purchasing for a month for large households. This is their one real food purchase of the month. A single person who runs into the store every few days does not need to purchase the amount that people in large households need to purchase in general, regardless of how the purchase is paid. State employees receive monthly pay. They often purchase their month’s worth of supplies when they receive their monthly checks. Yes, you can spread a regular monthly state employee check out and make more frequent purchases with a little budgeting. The SNAP purchaser who has to find a ride to the store for example, may not have the resources to shop every few days, but they could probably shop every two weeks.

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