The U.S. Department of Agriculture has increased the benefit a person receives through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 27%, a move that will significantly help those struggling with food insecurity, officials with the Des Moines Area Religious Council said today in a news release.

The increase, approved on Monday, will go into effect Oct. 1. It will translate into more than $36 per person per month, or an additional $116 million in SNAP benefits in Iowa each year, according to the USDA. A temporary 15% increase in SNAP benefits was set to expire Sept. 30.

The increase will affect 285,000 Iowans, including 54,000 people in Polk County, who rely on SNAP benefits to make ends meet.

“SNAP is the best tool we have in our belt in the fight against hunger,” said Matt Unger, CEO at DMARC. “It helps people put food on the table in a dignified way and supports our local economies to boot.”

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.54 in economic activity.

DMARC, an interfaith organization with a core membership of over 125 congregations from five faith traditions, manages a food pantry network consisting of 14 pantry sites, a mobile food pantry and two food warehouses. It had seen a decrease in food pantry visits by people who are enrolled in SNAP, and officials there credited the temporary 15% increase for the decline, along with federal stimulus payments and enhanced child tax credit payments.

They feared that traffic to food pantries could increase after the temporary increase expired.

“We know that when people have enough resources to purchase their own food at the grocery store, we see less folks in line at our food pantries,” Unger said. “While this is incredible progress for those who qualify for the SNAP program, we provide assistance to thousands more who do not qualify for SNAP benefits. We will continue to be here to help those folks meet their nutrition needs. At the same time, we will -- and must -- continue to explore and attack those root causes leading to so many struggling with hunger and food insecurity in the first place.”

Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa. Read additional stories on