A supermarket in Plainview, New York, 2020. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Expanded government aid meant to keep New Mexicans from going hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended through the end of September. The program was set to expire in August, but the federal government granted New Mexico an extension.
Since March 2020, U.S. residents getting help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have gotten extra money called emergency allotments meant to bring them up to the maximum possible benefit, depending on the size of their household.
Households who are already enrolled in the program and newly approved SNAP recipients are eligible for the extra food assistance, according to a Sept. 14 news release by the New Mexico Human Services Department.
People already getting SNAP don’t need to do anything further to get the extra money. It will keep being automatically added to people’s EBT cards, according to the release.
In October, non-emergency SNAP benefits will increase — beyond inflation adjustments — for the first time in the program’s 46-year history.
“The additional food benefits ensure New Mexico’s neediest families have access to a healthy diet, which supports children in the classroom, reduces health care costs and more,” said Human Services Department Deputy Secretary Angela Medrano. “The extra money spent in grocery stores also helps grow the food economy in these difficult times.”
Research suggests people who receive SNAP benefits end up spending less on health care. People using SNAP also spend more on food and other basic necessities like diapers and medication, which benefits local economies, studies show.
Expanded SNAP benefits and other increases to government aid like rent relief payments and unemployment insurance contributed to the national poverty rate decreasing by 2.6% between 2019 and 2020, according to newly released census data. In the same period using the same measure, New Mexico’s poverty rate decreased by 1.4% between 2019 and 2020.
An estimated 271,730 households in New Mexico receive emergency SNAP benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each month, those benefits total about $42.5 million. About 21 percent of New Mexico residents are enrolled in SNAP.
To apply for SNAP benefits, go to yes.state.nm.us or call 1-800-283-4465.
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