SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, food stamps, online ordering, shopping

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Walmart employee Alicia Carter fulfills online grocery orders at a Walmart Supercenter in Houston. Amazon and Walmart are participating in a two-year pilot established by the government to allow low-income shoppers on government food assistance to shop and pay for their groceries online. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The national Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is changing the way it calculates monthly benefits.

Starting in April 2020, benefits were increased to 15% across the board to everyone, regardless of their household size. Now, the USDA's updated Thrifty Food Plan adjusts to a household specific plan based on the number of people in your home. It starts Friday.

Jessica Klein with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said this change is going to increase most family's monthly SNAP benefits. For example, she said, a family of three receiving the maximum amount of benefits from SNAP would have received $509 for last month, and this month, the same family will get $658. 

"This is a good change and one of the reasons it's a good change is that it's permanent," Klein said.

This means the benefits will continue to be calculated this way regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, for comparison, the new calculation is about a 23% increase from pre-pandemic benefit amounts.

Klein said there is a small portion of people who get SNAP benefits that could see a decrease in benefits.

"It kind of just depends on the specific details of that household, if they will or will not," she said.

On average, the households who receive SNAP benefits will see an 8% increase in October from what they were receiving in September.

The pandemic also triggered emergency allotments, and these are still in place and will continue based on the state's emergency status.

"So, luckily, in the most recent special session, that continued," Klein said. "And so that means that we can continue to provide those emergency allotments for folks."

As for Pandemic Electronic Balance Transfer (P-EBT) — a program for families who need help feeding their kids who would normally eat free or reduced lunch at school — with many Kentucky student back in the classroom, it no longer applies because the students can now get their free lunch. 

Klein said if the student is doing virtual learning and needs P-EBT, it should continue.

According to data from the Center for Economic Policy, there are about 550,000 Kentuckians statewide that benefit from SNAP and about 41,000 households in Jefferson County.

Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.