On April 1, HSD announced it would relax the rules and use those recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. HSD estimates the relaxed rules will add 4,000 families, at a cost of $8 million, to the list of 146,000 New Mexicans already receiving food stamps.
There’s a catch: The higher gross income limits—now $2,518 a month for a family of three—only apply to those who get an HSD referral for certain other benefits, which are available mainly to pregnant women, families with children, domestic violence victims and the elderly or disabled. Despite New Mexico’s relatively strict guidelines, average monthly food stamp participation shot up 26 percent last year—even faster than the national average, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. However, New Mexico’s average monthly benefit of $118 was slightly lower than other states. Check your eligibility at hsd.state.nm.us.