The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program (SNAP), commonly known as the Food Stamp Program, is a federal food assistance program that helps low-income families put food on the table. Federal regulations allow for states to set SNAP eligibility levels between 130% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Line. Virginia’s eligibility level is at the bare minimum of 130%. As a result, Virginia is missing out on helping over 25,000 families put food on the table.
Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE), which has been implemented in 43 states, streamlines SNAP enrollment for all individuals receiving assistance through a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefit. Every SNAP dollar will generate ~$1.50 in economic activity. This means that all the federal dollars that come in the form of SNAP benefits will generate an estimated $10.5 million of economic impact in our state. These measures will be critical to Virginia’s continued economic growth, including its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delegate Dan Helmer has introduced HB1820 to implement Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility for SNAP in Virginia. Delegate Helmer’s bill also makes eligible those pursuing various forms of postsecondary education for TANF and SNAP. We estimate that over 70,000 low-income college students will be eligible for SNAP through this bill. Senator Jennifer McClellan has introduced Budget Amendment 359 #2s to increase the gross income limit to 200% of the federal poverty line.
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