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Estimated $ 25 million to promote federal food benefits

SACRAMENTO, CA. (AP) – About 25 million Americans will be eligible for more food aid under a new policy adopted by the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden.

The change, announced late Thursday, came after the United States Department of Agriculture reached an agreement with two California plaintiffs who sued last year after being barred from using increased congressional benefits because of a coronavirus outbreak. That could mean an increase in monthly benefits for approximately 1 million Californians.

“This is a real boost to people’s benefits, which will make it a little easier to keep food on the table,” said Lindsay Nako, Impact Fund’s director of litigation training, who represented California plaintiffs next to the Western Center for Law. & Poverty

Congress approved emergency benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes called the Food Stamp, after the coronavirus struck last March. But people who already receive the maximum monthly benefit, given the lowest-income households, were not eligible for the increase.

Robin Hall was one of them, he became a plaintiff in the case of California. Hall, in his mid-40s, was living in a makeshift home in late 2019’s homeless when the epidemic began. She has health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, which dictated her nutritional needs; she would turn to food banks and other local programs to fill in the gaps when she ran out of benefits each month. The maximum monthly benefit in California at the time of filing was $ 194.

“The epidemic has made it much harder to get regular food,” said a statement from the Holly Western Center. “This ambulance will be a huge help to me and many others. I feel so honored to fight for everyone like me. ”

Households that did not receive at least $ 95 a month in increased benefits during the epidemic will be eligible for the next payment. Any household that already receives that amount will not see growth. The United States may have several weeks to make that increase.

The households that did not receive any increase in benefits were already the lowest-income families. Forty percent of households have children, 20 percent are elderly and 15 percent are disabled, according to a USDA press release.

It means a change of policy between Biden and the Trump administration. When Biden took office in January, he issued a decree instructing all federal agencies to review epidemic assistance programs. The order specifically mentioned the increase in food benefits for the lowest-income households.

The USDA estimates that the policy change will send a total of $ 1 billion a month to 25 million people. California, the most populous state in the country, will see the largest increase with $ 120 million in monthly benefits. Texas residents will see an additional $ 81 million a month.

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