By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

Many Washington, D.C. residents who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will soon see an increase in their monthly benefits.

“SNAP is a critical lifeline for families across the country but, in particular, in D.C. our food and security numbers are high,” said Reana Kim, policy director of D.C. Greens. “Almost 70,000 community members in D.C. are estimated to be struggling with hunger and that’s disproportionately on our families of color.”

In an attempt to overcome the loss of COVID-19 emergency aid in the District, legislators passed the Give SNAP a Raise Amendment Act of 2022. Although the law went into effect on March 10, it did not receive funding through the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget which was finalized on Aug. 29.

“The Give SNAP a Raise Act has a big price tag, $40 million just to expand benefits starting January, and was not funded in the Mayor’s original proposed budget — making it harder for the Council to find funding during a difficult budget year,” a spokesperson from the office of Councilmember Janeese Lewis-George (D-Ward 4) told the AFRO. “Ultimately, we secured the excess revenue so the SNAP expansion can go into effect in January.”

The increase will take effect from January 2024 to September 2024 and will be equal to 10 percent of a household’s federal monthly allotment.

“As aid was rolled back federally, there was a real need to make up that difference and to assess what D.C. was doing [to help residents],” said Kim. “Give Snap A Raise was an effort to make sure we didn’t roll back to a SNAP system that was really not serving residents adequately.”

According to the 2023 Hunger Report, 70 percent of families reported that the SNAP increase provided through COVID-19 emergency aid had a major positive impact on their financial situation. 

The average reduction in the D.C. area was $93 per individual and $173 per household, though there were steeper declines.

“We look forward to working with our community and council colleagues to ensure this SNAP expansion is sustained in future years,” said a Lewis-George office spokesperson. “Given the alarming levels of food insecurity in our city, we know that this expansion is critical for working families.”

Kim discussed what residents can do to advocate for continued funding.

“What the average person can do is get involved with groups like DC Greens or DC Hunger Solutions and talk to their council members or the mayor’s office,” said Kim. “ I know some people, especially if you’re experiencing hunger, you don’t have time for these things but plugin where you can. Maybe it’s research or a place of worship that has some ties to advocacy.”

The office of Councilmember Christina Henderson, who also worked on the legislation, explained that benefits increase will be automatically applied.