RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The largest permanent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the program’s history takes effect Oct. 1. It coincides with expanded income eligibility in Virginia.

It means SNAP recipients will see more money uploaded on their cards even though a separate pandemic-era boost to benefits ended on Thursday. It comes as the state reports an alarming spike in food insecurity during the pandemic.

A recent update to the Thrifty Food Plan methodology by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is behind the increase. SNAP benefits are based on the Thrifty Food Plan to estimate the cost of groceries needed to provide a healthy diet for a family of four. It was the first update to the plan since 1975.

USDA projects an average increase of $36 per person per month because of this change, excluding additional funds that were part of pandemic relief.

“No one in Virginia should ever go hungry. This long overdue change to the Thrifty Food Plan means that over 760,000 Virginians can better afford nutritious meals,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “Food insecurity has spiked to frightening levels during the pandemic, and every opportunity to provide meals and more financial resources to low-income families must be taken.”

Additionally, income limits for eligible families are increasing.

“The SNAP expansion that took place in Virginia this year is the largest SNAP expansion in state history, where over 25,000 families are newly eligible for the program,” said Virginia Poverty Law Center Public Benefits Staff Attorney Salaam Bhatti.

Bhatti said much of the increase compared to last year took effect on July 1 but another uptick took effect today as part of an annual federal boost. He said the General Assembly also made other changes to eligibility recently.

“The Department of Social Services no longer looks at how much money you have in your savings account or if you have stocks or anything like that. That resource test is gone,” Bhatti said.

The table below shows what the new maximum gross monthly income will be for Oct. 1-Sept. 30, 2022, compared to the gross maximum that went into effect on Oct. 1, 2020.

Household Size2021-22 Maximum Gross Monthly Income2020-21 Maximum Gross Monthly Income
Each additional member$757$486

If you have questions about SNAP benefits, head over to the Virginia Department of Social Services website.

VPLC also has an online eligibility calculator tool and a helpline, 866753SNAP.