by Scott McClallen
Many of the costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t easily visible, such as Michigan’s 2,000 COVID-19 nursing home residents’ deaths, the increasing number of opioid overdoses, and the bankrupted businesses due to government-mandated restrictions and less consumer demand.
More than 2 million people lost their jobs within months after Michigan’s first case of the virus, pushing hundreds of thousands of people onto federally bankrolled food assistance programs, spiking costs by nearly $60 million over two months.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the federal program that the Department of Health and Human Services administers in Michigan called the Food Assistance Program (FAP).
There are several eligibility requirements, including income level, group size, assets and work status.
There’s a gross monthly income level limit for household size:
- 1 person: $1,354
- 2 people: $1,832
- 3 people: $2,311
- 4 people: $2,790
- 5 people: $3,269
In February 2020, the FAP paid $137 million to 1.175 million recipients, down from $142 million for 1.191 million recipients in February 2019.
In March 2020, the FAP paid $205 million for 1.2 million recipients, up more than $64 million from March 2019 expenditures for 1.18 million recipients.
In April, the program paid out $234.4 million for 1.49 million recipients, an increase of nearly $100 million from April 2019 for 1.17 million recipients.
In May 2020, FAP paid over $263 million for 1.5 million recipients. A year prior, that cost $137 million for 1.16 million recipients – $126 million less.
Those numbers may continue climbing as the $600 federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits expire, since that income counts in determining SNAP eligibility, MDHHS Public Information Officer Bob Wheaton told The Center Square in an email.
A number of people may also return to work, countering that number.
If granted, the SNAP allotment is based on household size. The maximum amount per household size is:
- 1 person: $194
- 2 people: $355
- 3 people. $509
- 4 people: $646
- 5 people: $768
It’s unclear what action Congress will take in extending or letting the federal benefits expire, but either decision will impact future SNAP costs.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.