DC SNAP recipients are expecting a boost in benefits. They might not get it

SNAP residents in D.C. were expecting a boost in benefits in 2024 that may not come.

D.C. residents receiving government assistance to help buy groceries are supposed to see their benefits boosted heading into 2024 — but now, according to officials, it is unclear if that will happen.

For over 145,000 SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients in D.C., the “Give SNAP a Raise” bill passed by the D.C. Council in March was meant to boost benefits by 10% between January and September.

The nearly $40 million of funding for that increase comes from the city’s excess revenue, but now, Mayor Muriel Bowser is second-guessing where she wants that money to go.

“Should we advance a nine month benefit that goes away? Or should we work on something that’s more sustainable for more people? That’s the question I put to the Council,” Bowser told NBC4.

Bowser’s administration cited budgetary and staffing constraints in their push back.

Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, who introduced the bill, released a statement encouraging Bowser to approve the aid. She emphasized that D.C. also has the worst processing rate of SNAP applications nationwide, according to the federal government.

“The US Department of Agriculture has even warned the District that its federal SNAP benefits could be at risk of being suspended if its processing of applications did not improve,” George said. “Our social safety net is in crisis.”

D.C. ‘s Attorney General Brian Schwalb is also putting his foot down in the debate, stating that Bowser is required to use the funds as the council directed stating in an opinion, the mayor “cannot unilaterally use them for another purpose.”

George posted the AG’s opinion on X, writing that “we need to stop balancing budgets on the backs of people who are suffering.”

Bowser said she is in talks with council members about how to best use the surplus funds.

SNAP will remain funded through 2024, as this decision will only determine whether there’s an increase in the program’s funds.

Grace Newton

Grace Newton is an Associate Producer at WTOP. She also works as an associate producer for NPR Newscast. Grace was born and raised in North Carolina but has lived in D.C. since 2018. Grace graduated from American University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in art history in 2022.

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