Nearly a million Virginians will soon have to adjust their grocery-shopping schedule, because the Virginia Department of Social Services is changing the way they distribute Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.
SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, are issued on the first day of every month, but starting in October, the benefits will go out on the first, fourth, seventh, or ninth of each month.
Tom Steinhauser, with the Virginia Department of Social Services, says the changes come after evaluating the effectiveness of distributing all benefits at one time.
"The intent is to make sure when people go to the grocery store, there's enough stock on hand, especially in terms of fresh fruits and vegetables," he says.
He says under the old system, supplies depleted too quickly since most people shopped on the same day. He also says the agency addressed the issue of "food deserts," where nutritious, inexpensive goods are hard to find. That includes working with more farmers markets to expand the use of SNAP benefits.