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Following Calls From Schatz To Increase SNAP Benefits In Hawai‘i, USDA Begins Process To Update Benefits To Reflect Food Costs

Schatz Worked Directly With USDA Secretary Vilsack To Update Hawai‘i Benefits

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin the process to update its approach for calculating Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in Hawai‘i to ensure they accurately reflect the cost of food across the state. Beginning today through March 4, 2024, the USDA will seek information from stakeholders throughout Hawai‘i on the cost of food and how the program can better serve local communities.

“For many in Hawai‘i, SNAP is a lifeline, helping families put food on the table. 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,” said Senator Schatz. “I thank the USDA and Secretary Vilsack for working with us to update SNAP benefits for Hawai‘i so that those who need it can continue to access this critical federal program.”

Food prices in Hawai‘i are among the highest in the nation. Schatz worked directly with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and urged him to update its cost analysis in the state. Today’s action from the USDA begins a rulemaking process to adjust benefits for Hawai‘i. Following the initial phase to gather information, USDA may then use that data to propose and finalize a new rule to ensure benefits take into account food costs for residents across the state. 

SNAP is a federal program that provides crucial nutritional benefits to low-income individuals and families that are used at stores to purchase food. It’s administered at the federal level through USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and at the state level in Hawai‘i by the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services. Nearly 200,000 Hawai‘i residents rely on SNAP.