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Average daily benefits for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, are $7.58 per person, recent data from the Congressional Budget Office shows.
However, that figure factors in emergency pandemic-era allotments, which ended in February.
When subtracting the emergency allotments, the daily SNAP benefit is about $6 per day, according to think tanks.
Legislators’ agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling followed weeks of tense cross-partisan negotiations. Among the most controversial provisions was the expansion of work requirements for some recipients of federal aid programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP.
In a May 28 appearance on CNN’s "State of the Union," Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, criticized the expansion of work requirements and called it "bad policy."
"This is saying to poor people and people who are in need that we don't trust them. And the average amount of assistance for SNAP, for example, is $6 a day… I mean, we're talking about $6 a day," Jayapal said.
According to federal data for fiscal year 2023, which began Oct. 1, 2022, and ends Sept. 30, 2023, the average amount of SNAP benefits received per day is higher than Jayapal said. However, experts say that when subtracting pandemic-era emergency provisions that ended in February, the six-dollar figure is more accurate.
More than 41 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2022. Under existing rules, people ages 18 to 49 receiving SNAP benefits must work, participate in a work training program or complete some combination of the two for at least 80 hours a month. The debt ceiling bill gradually increases the age for work requirements to 54 by 2025.
Not all SNAP recipients are subject to the work requirements. Pregnant women, people with dependents and people with disabilities are exempt. The new legislation expands these exemptions to include veterans, homeless people and those under 24 who are aging out of the foster care system.
Data from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the average monthly benefit in fiscal year 2023 is $227.25 per person. Divided by 30 days in a month, that would mean the amount received per day is about $7.58.
But that total includes pandemic-era emergency allotments, said Deborah Kilroe, the Congressional Budget Office’s director of communications. These supplements, authorized under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, were first distributed to families in March 2020 to "address temporary food needs." They ended in February, lowering the daily benefit amount.
When we contacted Jayapal’s office, her staff cited data published by the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, last updated in March. The center found that the average daily SNAP benefits amounted to about $6 per person per day–$6.07 in a 30-day month, to be exact–a number that reflects the termination of emergency allotments, said Lauren Hall, research analyst at the center. In a January report, the centrist Bipartisan Policy Center estimated daily SNAP benefits without the allotment to be $6.10 per day.
Craig Gundersen, a Baylor University economics professor who studies food insecurity and food assistance programs, said Jayapal’s estimate was sound. "From my perspective, these numbers are close enough such that the statement by the Congressperson is accurate," he said.
Jayapal said the average amount of assistance for SNAP is $6 a day.
In fiscal year 2023, the daily average SNAP benefit is $7.58. But that figure includes a pandemic-related emergency allotment that ended in February. After subtracting the emergency allotment, the daily average benefit is now closer to $6, as Jayapal said.
The statement is accurate but needs additional information. We rate it Mostly True.
Pramila Jayapal, remarks in Seattle, Wash., May 28, 2023
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "A Closer Look at Who Benefits from SNAP: State-by-State Fact Sheets," accessed May 30, 2023
U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services, "SNAP Work Requirements," accessed May 30, 2023
Congress.gov, "H.R.3746 - Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023," accessed May 30, 2023
Interview, Craig Gundersen, professor of economics at Baylor University, May 31, 2023
Email interview, Jenna Behringer, communications director for Pramila Jayapal, May 31, 2023
Bipartisan Policy Center, "Making Food and Nutrition Security a SNAP: Recommendations for the 2023 Farm Bill," accessed May 31, 2023
Email interview, Lauren Hall, research analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 1, 2023
Email interview, Deborah Kilroe, director of communications at the Congressional Budget Office, June 1, 2023
Congressional Budget Office, "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," accessed June 1, 2023
Congressional Budget Office, "Temporary Pandemic SNAP Benefits Will End in Remaining States in March 2023," accessed June 6, 2023
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