End Senior Hunger

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Raising the Minimum SNAP Benefit for Seniors

When the federal health emergency hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone was granted the maximum SNAP benefit for their household size, providing vital support during uncertain times. However, in March 2023, many seniors saw their benefits drop drastically from $281 to just $23 per month. This sudden decrease has left numerous seniors facing tough decisions between putting food on the table and affording necessary medications.

Increasing SNAP benefits for seniors is crucial in alleviating this struggle. It ensures that our older community members can meet their basic needs without compromising their health. SNAP benefits not only benefit seniors directly but also have a positive ripple effect on the larger community. Every dollar spent on SNAP generates about $1.50 in the local economy, providing a boost to businesses and supporting the overall well-being of the community. It’s an investment that goes beyond individual households, creating a healthier and more resilient community for everyone.

Photograph of grocery aisle in background. Text in front reads "My mother was approved for $23 a month, which I thought was funny. I thought it was a joke. I mean, $23 is barely enough for a week." - Mary Pohlig with her mother Deborah, senior SNAP recipients in Hanover County

“Why bother? If I went to the store now, a loaf of bread is like $4? And if I just wanted to get a pack of bologna and lettuce or something, I mean that would be a week’s worth of food and it would probably cost that [$23] and I can’t believe they expect us to make that last a whole month. . .I’m on Medicare, I’m a senior, I’m disabled. . .I just turned 62 this week. And I can’t — I’m having a hard time getting help with anything. I tried.” – Senior SNAP Recipient, Hanover County

“I think the cost of living is not reflected in what you’re getting as far as food stamps and stuff like that because if I’m having trouble as a single person, it’s got to be a lot worse for somebody with families and is getting the bare minimum.” – Senior SNAP Recipient, Henrico County

“$23. If I’m looking at, okay, well, gas costs this much and my grocery store is this far… I’ve got back and [forth] and part of my disability… Do I walk like an hour to get to my grocery store and walk back or do I take the chance to drive out and use my gas?” – Senior SNAP Recipient, Henrico County

Get Involved in Ending Senior Hunger

ACTION ALERT: Please consider sending THANKS to Delegate Bennett-Parker for sponsoring the bill in the House, and to Senator Hashmi and Senator Roem for co-sponsoring the Budget Amendment in the Senate. 

PLEASE CONTACT the House and Senate Appropriations Committee to urge them to:

  • SUPPORT Budget Amendment Items 324 #7h and 324 #4s
  • ENSURE low-income seniors have adequate resources to purchase nutritious meals.

You can also make a difference by contacting your own legislators and letting them know this issue matters to you. Constituent voices can make a big impact! Share your support for increasing the SNAP minimum benefit for seniors in Senate Item 324 #4s and House Item 324 #7h. Get the facts about the budget amendment

Not sure who currently represents you? Find out using the Virginia Who’s My Legislator Tool.

Visit VPLC’s Legislative Advocacy Center to find more ways to get involved with advocacy on food insecurity and other issues affecting low-income Virginians during this year’s General Assembly session.

Share Your Story

Have you been personally affected by last year’s benefit cut? Your story can make a difference.

Fill out this anonymous form to share your experiences and help Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Federation of Virginia Food Banks bring this issue to light and advocate for higher minimum SNAP benefits for seniors. Raising awareness is an important step toward ending senior hunger. 

Other Resources

  • Find a food bank in your area with the Federation of Virginia Food Banks’ locator tool
  • Apply for SNAP benefits online with CommonHelp or by calling 855-635-4370.
  • Check your estimated SNAP benefit using the VPLC SNAP Calculator.
  • Learn more about how you can double your SNAP benefits at local farmers markets with Virginia Fresh Match.
  • Are you homebound and can’t go grocery shopping? Meals on Wheels may be able to deliver meals to your home.
  • If you are 60+ or have a disability, you could be eligible for a medical deduction. Medical deductions are often underutilized and if used correctly could increase SNAP benefits. Use VPLC’s SNAP checklist to learn more about what type of expenses you can deduct.
  • Already a SNAP recipient? Check out other available resources here.
  • Are you on Medicaid and have a Medicare Advantage? You may be eligible for a grocery allowance. If you have Medicaid, you may be eligible for a certain number of trips to the grocery store or food bank if you don’t have transportation. You should contact your managed care organization or Medicare Advantage provider to learn more.