Grocery stores in Virginia could have shorter lines tomorrow despite it being the first of the month. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is now staggering its payments.
Since the 1970s the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, has been a way to help families. "The SNAP program is intended to assist people with low income purchase food, help with their nutritional needs," said Linda Shepherd, Benefit Program Supervisor for the program..
The Virginia Department of Social Services is making a big change with snap and they are doing it by staggering the benefit payment schedules.
We learned from Social Services that the food stamps were originally on a staggered payment, but after switching to the "Electronic Benefit Transfer," or EBT cards, they began loading the benefits on the same day. As of now, Virginia is one of nine states to hand out benefits to everyone on the first day of the month.
But that all ends on September 1.
"One of the reasons is to help the retailers. They seem to get slammed the first of the month," said Shepherd.
The President of Food Country, Don Henderson, agrees that it will help his workers. "That focus won’t be as hard on the first of the month for us, which will enable us to focus on other things to make it better for our customers," said Henderson.
He continued to tell us that it would eliminate many problems for them. "We strive to open up all of our cash registers and have all of our staff on hand and sometimes even when we're doing that it might still back up because the volume is so heavy," said Henderson.
However, that is not the only thing the only benefit to the change. "A lot of times when we try to process the EBT cards the system will go down," said Henderson.
That causes some customers to get anxious. "We have to reprocess them and that creates people standing in line, waiting on their cards to process more," said Henderson.
We were told by workers at the Social Services office that the day your benefits come in depends on the last digit in your case number.
For the month of September, the dates will be slightly different to help with the transition.
On September 1, case numbers ending in 0, 1, 2 or 3 will be served.
On the 4th the remaining numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9, get their benefits.
Starting on October 1, the first of the month will be the same.
The 4th will be numbers 4 and 5.
The 7th with be numbers 6 and 7.
And the 9th will the numbers 8 and 9.
Henderson told us that he thinks this will be great for his stores and help them better serve their customers.