Feds start work to update food stamp benefits in Hawai‘i to reflect high food costs : Kauai Now

Feds start work to update food stamp benefits in Hawai‘i to reflect high food costs : Kauai Now

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January 18, 2024, 4:00 PM HST

Food prices in Hawai‘i are among the highest in the nation.

To ensure the federal government accurately reflects the cost of food throughout the state, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is updating its approach for calculating federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also known as food stamps, benefits in the islands.

On Thursday, the department began seeking information from Hawai‘i stakeholders about food costs and how SNAP can better serve the state’s communities. Information gathering will continue through March 4.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawai‘i Democrat, worked directly with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and urged him to update the department’s cost analysis in the state. Thursday’s action begins a rulemaking process to adjust benefits in Hawai‘i.

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Following the initial information-gathering phase, the department can use that data to propose and finalize a new rule to ensure benefits take into account food costs for residents throughout the state.

“For many in Hawai‘i, SNAP is a lifeline, helping families put food on the table,” said Schatz. “But to make sure this program continues to help those who rely on it, SNAP benefits need to keep up with the real cost of food across the state.”

SNAP provides crucial nutritional benefits to low-income individuals and families to purchase food. The program is administered through USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and at the state level by the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services.

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Nearly 200,000 Hawai‘i residents rely on SNAP.

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