Food stamp recipients will have their emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits extended for the month of October.
Recipients should have received the extra amount on Sunday (Oct. 10), according to the New Mexico Human Services Department (NMHSD).
These emergency benefits have been in place since March 2020. They allow SNAP recipients to receive the maximum amount of food benefits according to their household size. The benefits are automatically provided to recipients EBT cards; no action is required by cardholders.
NMHSD said that SNAP serves more than 559,758 individuals in New Mexico each month. NMHSD reported 7,500 SNAP recipients in Taos County in 2020.
The emergency benefits were intended to alleviate food insecurity for SNAP households during the COVID-19 pandemic. The USDA and the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) grant the emergency benefits under the governor’s public health orders. The emergency benefits are announced on a monthly basis due to the authority of public health orders that are effective 30 days at a time.
“As long as we have a public health order in existence in the state, we can request to issue this emergency benefit,” said Karmela Martinez, income support division director for NMHSD.
Martinez said that Gov. Grisham has given full support and authority to pursue the emergency benefits funds. There has been an increase in the number of individuals enrolled in SNAP this year, according to Martinez.
“From April 20 through August 21, which has all been under the public health emergency, we have seen an increase of 14.4 percent of SNAP,” said Martinez.
She said that there could possibly be more in applications of people who were not eligible.
Eligibility for SNAP is based on the federal poverty limit, along with criteria based on an individual or household’s gross and net income. Martinez said that SNAP gives households the ability to not choose between “healthy food options and keeping the lights on.”
“New Mexico unfortunately is struggling with high poverty rates. And one in five of New Mexico children actually suffer from food insecurity ... New Mexico that have been impacted really harshly by the public health emergency, [SNAP] gives them the opportunity to have nutritious food options,” said Martinez.