Shelves at Connecticut Foodshare warehouse Credit: Christine Stuart file photo

Just as food inflation hit 11.4% this year, the state of Connecticut announced that it will expand eligibility to add more than 44,000 residents to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. 

The SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps, currently serves more than 222,600 households, including 138,800 children. The new income limits will expand that by 17,600 households, according to the Department of Social Services.

“Expanding the eligibility levels will enable a greater number of individuals and families to qualify for this program and ensure increased access to quality, nutritious food at Connecticut supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers markets,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “By continuing our partnership with the federal government, actions like this will help in our efforts to combat hunger and food insecurity.”

Under the new eligibility benefit levels, Connecticut residents will qualify for SNAP if their monthly gross income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (for example, this would include $2,265 for a single person and $4,625 for a four-person household). This is an increase from the most recent eligibility benefit level of 185% of the federal poverty level ($1,986 for a single person and $4,086 for a four-person household).

Additionally, the program will expand eligibility to those already receiving assistance. Current enrollees will receive more than a 12% increase in their monthly benefits from the program’s annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Specific amounts are geared to household and income size. For example, a household of four receiving the maximum SNAP benefit will see an increase of $104, from $835 to $939. A single person will receive an extra $31 in maximum benefits, from $250 to $281. The first monthly payment that includes this cost-of-living adjustment will be received by enrollees this month. 

DSS Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford noted that SNAP enrollees automatically become eligible for other services, ranging from Head Start to winter heating assistance.

“Simply put, qualifying for SNAP will help more Connecticut parents support their children’s health and education in other ways,” Gifford said. “This is because families enrolled in SNAP are automatically eligible for Head Start, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. It’s also important to point out that SNAP enrollees of all ages are also automatically eligible for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program.”