Families First Coronavirus: Summary of SNAP Provisions


The Families First Coronavirus response bill that President Trump signed into law included several provisions to help individuals and families who rely on federal feeding programs such as SNAP and WIC. Below are brief descriptions of the provisions and the potential impact they could have on your SNAP shoppers.

Work Requirements: the bill temporarily waives the work requirements for able bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD). ABAWD are typically limited to 3 months of benefits every 3 years if they are not working or participating in a state-run work training program. The bill lifts that time limit automatically allowing ABAWD to receive benefits beyond the maximum. States do not need to apply for a waiver and recipients do not need to file any additional paperwork. This authority will expire the month after the Secretary of Health and Human Services lifts his Emergency declaration.

Emergency Allotments of SNAP Benefits: The bill allow for states to request a waiver to temporarily increase SNAP benefits to the national maximum level. According to 2019 data, the average SNAP benefit for a family of 4 was $448, while the national maximum was $642. The most recent SNAP participation and benefit distribution data, by state for November, 2019, seems to track annual national averages. FMI is working with FNS to obtain more recent data. FNS has issued guidance to states on the processes and parameters for requesting the increase in funds. According to the guidance a state may:

  • Request approval if there is a public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and there is a State-wide emergency or disaster declaration
  • Bring all SNAP households up to the national maximum for 2 months. Following the 2 months, a state can request an extension from FNS.
  • States can request and receive the additional funds for the month of March, 2020. They are requested to share with FNS how they intend to distribute benefits, one single day, over a series of days or staggered.
  • Starting with April issuance, FNS directs states to maintain their current distribution schedule and simply add the additional funds at the time clients receive their monthly distribution.

School Lunch/EBT Provisions (P-EBT): The Bill includes a provision for states whose schools have been closed for more than 5 days to provide benefits to children who receive free and reduced school meals. States can submit plans to USDA for approval to provide P-EBT benefits to SNAP and non-SNAP households with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures.

Who is eligible:
  • Households with one or more children who would receive free or reduced-price lunches if school was in session. It is FMI’s interpretation that students who qualify for free/reduced price lunches under the Community Eligibility Program will also qualify, we are seeking affirmative clarification from the Agency.
    • According to FNS, 21.8 million children received free or reduced price lunches in February 2020.
  • Households whose schools have been closed for more than 5 days due to the coronavirus outbreak
How is will be done:
  • For families already participating in SNAP, states can add additional benefits to the household’s monthly benefit level.
  • In the case where families are not current SNAP participants, states can issue EBT cards, or find other ways to services these households
What is the value of the benefit?
  • The law requires the allotment amount to be no less than the value of school meals at the free rate over the course of five (5) school days for each eligible child in the household. The value of the school meals is equal to the Federal reimbursement rate for breakfast and lunch at the free rate, as specified by USDA. The current average is $6.50 per child, per day for school breakfast, lunch and snacks.
  • States can issue benefits for the duration of regularly scheduled school year.