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New Mexico gave adults over 60 years old and adults with disabilities extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits in June. That comes a few months after the federal government ended its pandemic expansion of the program.
Karmela Martinez heads the Income Support Division at the New Mexico Human Services Department. She said her team worked with the Aging and Long-Term Services Department to get extra funds to these groups because currently, they’re getting the lowest amount of benefits possible through the federal government, which is $16 per month.
“These individuals tend to be on specialized diets, and that 16 dollars doesn’t get them very far,” she said.
The one-time boost gave nearly 8,000 New Mexicans an extra $168 for the month. The money came from the state’s general fund, and Martinez said that isn’t likely to happen again in this fiscal season.
She also said there’s a growing need in the state for this support, both with the winding down of pandemic relief funds and persistent inflation.
“We’re not necessarily seeing a lot more new applicants come through the door, but we are definitely seeing that the benefit isn’t stretching as far as it used to,” she said.
About a quarter of New Mexicans received SNAP benefits in 2022, and more than a quarter of participants are in families with members who are older adults or who have a disability.
Martinez said she hopes the farm bill currently working its way through the U.S. Congress will allocate money towards meeting more of this need. Her department is also pushing for the state to increase its SNAP supplement.
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