A U.S. Department of Agriculture's recalculation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and a major increase in the benefit for those in need "will be a meaningful improvement in the lives of millions of people who rely on SNAP for basic nutrition," Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City said Aug. 21.
He issued the statement as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.
"The U.S. bishops have repeatedly called for strengthening and improving SNAP so that it provides an adequate level of support that doesn't leave families hungry at the end of the month," Archbishop Coakley said.
His statement came in reaction to the USDA's Aug. 16 release of a reevaluation of its Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate benefit amounts provided to needy families through SNAP. The report prompted the Biden administration to permanently raise this benefit by over 25%, the largest single increase in the program's history, according to news reports.
The increase takes effect in October and will be available to all 42 million SNAP beneficiaries. A 15% boost in SNAP benefits for increased needs during the pandemic expires Sept. 30.
"Support for SNAP and other vital nutrition programs is one way we can collectively respond to the Lord's command to feed the hungry," Archbishop Coakley said. "As a church, we will continue to advocate for policies like SNAP that help people meet their essential human needs."