Biden administration reverses Trump decision, will provide $1 billion a month more in emergency food assistance

Courts say Trump’s USDA misinterpreted Families First’s emergency nutrition assistance. The decision brings new relief to 25 million low-income Americans.


By Laura Reiley, The Washington Post

April 2, 2021


The Biden administration has abandoned the Trump administration’s opposition to emergency nutrition assistance going to the lowest income households already at the maximum benefit levels.


In two lawsuits in Pennsylvania and California, plaintiffs argued that President Donald Trump’s agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, misinterpreted a section of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in a way that denied millions of the neediest Americans access to emergency allotments of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly called food stamps. In Pennsylvania, the suit alleged that the U.S. Agriculture Department under Trump denied any emergency allotments to nearly 40 percent of the state’s SNAP households.


Tom Vilsack, the current agriculture secretary, moved on Thursday for voluntary dismissal of the agency’s appeal in these cases, entering into a settlement that will provide $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to an estimated 25 million people in very low-income American households.


Starting this month, households that had not received at least $95 per month in increased benefits through emergency allotments during the pandemic — because they were already at or close to receiving the current maximum benefit — will now be eligible to receive additional benefits. Benefit levels will remain unchanged for households that have been receiving increased payments of at least $95 per month. States may need a few weeks to update their systems and get the additional benefits to participants, “but it should be smooth sailing from here on out,” said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary of the USDA...


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