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Give SNAP a Raise

December 23, 2021

For Immediate Release
December 23, 2021
Contact: Amanda Farnan, or (202) 355-8431

Councilmember Christina Henderson Introduces Legislation To Give SNAP a Raise

Washington DC – Today, Councilmember Christina Henderson, along with Councilmembers Brianne K. Nadeau, Mary M. Cheh, Janeese Lewis George, Robert C. White Jr., Brooke Pinto, and Kenyan R. McDuffie introduced the Give SNAP a Raise Amendment Act of 2021. This bill will increase the minimum monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing local funds to this program, increasing SNAP benefits to match food expenses under the Low-Cost Food Plan set by the Food and Nutrition Service at USDA. This bill will also change the maximum benefit to 15% of the maximum allotment for his or her family, opposed to the current flat rate of $30.

“We know the pandemic has exacerbated food inequities across the District and investing local dollars in SNAP is one way to combat this trend. We have an obligation to provide adequate resources for participants to purchase the healthy and necessary food options for their families,” said Councilmember Christina Henderson. “More than ten times as many Black District residents are relying on SNAP when compared to their white residents. This is an equity issue. It is time to give SNAP a raise.”

Beverley R. Wheeler, Ed.D. Director of D.C. Hunger Solutions states, “D.C. Hunger Solutions is grateful that Councilmember Henderson understands that over 136,000 DC residents, in particular, and the District economy, as a whole, will benefit from giving SNAP a Raise.”

The average SNAP benefit for a DC resident was $1.67 per meal in 2019. This leaves most participants about $100 short each month of what they need for an adequate healthy diet, resulting in a $160 million SNAP food security gap citywide. The current level of SNAP benefits does not take into consideration individuals that need specialized food plans and does not account for high grocery costs in DC – among the highest in the nation.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2019 approximately 94,000 residents of the District of Columbia – nearly one in eight – depended on SNAP. Due to the pandemic, the number of residents receiving SNAP benefits grew to over 136,000. We see 24 percent of our Black residents now experiencing food insecurity, compared with two percent of white residents.

This legislation would provide local funds to achieve an increase in SNAP benefits, matching food expenses under the Low-Cost Food Plan set by the Food and Nutrition Service at the USDA. This investment would make the District of Columbia the first in the United States to establish a SNAP local supplement, giving its residents greater flexibility to purchase healthy food throughout the month. This bill also updates the nomenclature used in the DC Code to describe the local SNAP expansion, moving away from the outdated term “Food Stamps.” Increasing the SNAP benefit will help address disproportionate food insecurity in District of Columbia, further allowing recipients to spend money on other necessities such as transportation, healthcare, and childcare.

I look forward to working with Council colleagues to advance this measure and improve food security for vulnerable residents in the District.