More MN households qualify for federal food assistance

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — More households in Minnesota are qualifying for a federal program that provides assistance with food.

And, it comes at a time when inflation has caused grocery prices to rise.

The Minnesota Legislature, during its last session, increased the income limit for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, from 165% of the federal poverty level to 200%. That means households of three making $3,600 a month or less are now able to receive the food benefits.

Peter Woitock, a government relations specialist with Hunger Solutions, advocated for the change. Woitock says about 1,400 additional households in Minnesota will be eligible.

He said many people were above the income level to qualify for SNAP, but they were still struggling to put food on the table.

“We saw during the early part of the (coronavirus) pandemic a lot of policies that were put into place to help put food on the table for those who are struggling. But many of those policies and waivers were temporary,” Woitock said

Food shelf operators say visits to their pantries have risen 39% since January 2022, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Woitock said SNAP also contributes to the local economy.

“I think in 2020, it served over 412,000 individuals so that was about $780 million of federal funds that came into the state,” he said.

Minnesota is the 20th state to raise the income limit, according to officials.