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U.S. households eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits received a financial boost during the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of an Emergency Allowance that provides $95 or more in supplemental funds each month. In most states, this benefit has already expired, but more than a dozen states have extended it through October 2022.

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The emergency allowance was granted to help SNAP recipients overcome financial hardship caused by the pandemic. State SNAP agencies have been authorized to issue the award payments on a monthly basis to all SNAP households that normally receive less than the maximum benefit. Households that are at or near the maximum SNAP benefit receive at least $95.

As long as there is a national public health emergency in place — and individual states have established state-level emergency declarations — those states can choose to continue providing monthly emergency stipends. Public health emergencies are extended for 90 days at a time.

SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a federal program that provides food assistance to low-income households. Although it is part of the United States Department of Agriculture, the program is administered at the state level, and each state sets payment dates and other rules. Beneficiaries now pay with electronic benefit transfer cards instead of food stamps, although some states have different names for the cards.

SNAP benefits can be used to purchase the following food items:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Meat, poultry and fish
  • Dairy products
  • Breads and cereals
  • Snacks and soft drinks
  • Seeds and plants that produce food for the household.

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Some of the items you cannot purchase with SNAP benefits include alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, vitamins, drugs, supplements, live animals, pet food, cleaning products, paper and cosmetics. In most states, SNAP benefits also cannot be used to purchase hot prepared foods at the point of sale or for consumption in-store.

As of September 23, 2022, the USDA has granted waivers to the following states to extend their emergency allocations through October 2022:

  • Alabama
  • District of Colombia
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Caroline from the south
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

For more details, updates, and to distinguish which benefits have been extended in your state, be sure to visit the USDA page for emergency allowances.

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