Participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — better known as SNAP and formerly known as food stamps — surged last year as the pandemic took hold. The USDA reports that the program serves more than 42 million people.
SNAP beneficiaries can now look forward to a major boost in monthly spending allowances. Starting on Oct. 1, benefits will be raised to more than 25% above pre-pandemic levels. This is a permanent adjustment, put in place as pandemic relief is set to expire at the end of September, and will push the average monthly benefit to about $157 per person (exact amounts vary by state; see the estimated benefits for your local area.)
If you're among those new to food assistance programs and unfamiliar with how they work, here's a quick yet comprehensive list of what you can and can't buy using SNAP benefits.