Eighteen states have already ended emergency. Allocations of at least $95 a month, and the rest will soon follow. Even as grocery prices remain high.
The funds that low-income families receive. To buy groceries are ending a pandemic-era boom. Setting the stage for a potential increase in food insecurity.
For nearly three years, an emergency allocation has provided families. Who take part in the Supplemental Nutrition Help Program, or SNAP, with at least $95 extra per month.
Eighteen states have already stopped extra allocations. By late February, the remaining 32 states and Washington, D.C. will follow. Adding financial pressure to those already struggling to make ends meet.
“I’m not worried that I won’t be able to do it, because I will be,” said Tanisha Ferran, a Wooster. Ohio, mother who can’t work because of chronic back problems. “But it will be by the skin of my teeth every month.”
In states that have already stopped allocations, anti-hunger advocates say. There has been a marked increase in hardship among food-insecure families.
Georgia ended emergency SNAP allocations after May. The Atlanta Community Food Bank, which serves 29 counties. Saw a nearly 34% increase in visits from July to December compared. To the same period last year, said Kyle Wide, its president and CEO. Waid blamed the loss of allocations for the increase in demand. As well as the end of other pandemic-era measures. Such as the child tax credit and universal free school meals.
“We are concerned about the long lines at the food pantries for various reasons,” she said. “And as it turns out, these worries and anxieties were well-founded.”
SNAP emergency allocations were never intended to be permanent. They were supposed to last until the federal government. Declares the end of the Covid public health emergency. Which the Biden administration announced this week will happen in May. But instead, a last-minute provision. In the government’s public spending bill reduced the SNAP surplus after February. Grocery prices continue to rise despite cooling inflation. The Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service forecasts. That food prices will rise 4.2% to 10.1% this year compared to 2022.
“Everyone on the lower end of the income scale is facing really. significant economic pressure right now,” Waid said. “Closing these programs, in some ways, could not come at a worse time.”
‘A dirty job for a poor man’
SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is a far-reaching public help program. More than 42.3 million people across the United States participated in October. The most recent Agriculture Department data show.
Eligibility is based on income, among other factors. With the average monthly payment for a SNAP participant. In October including emergency allocations being $253.43. Benefits are distributed once a month.
As the allocation ends, SNAP benefits revert to a format. That anti-hunger advocates say was inadequate to begin with. The average SNAP household used more. Than three-quarters of its benefits by mid-month, pre-pandemic data show. Often leaving participants without enough money to cover the basics between payments.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the rules committee chairman. And a champion of anti-hunger efforts, has fought to increase SNAP benefits. McGovern said that without the allocation. He worries that the U.S. is “falling behind” its goal of ending hunger by 2030. Still a reality and food prices are high,” he said in an interview. “SNAP benefits, even with emergency allocations, are, quite frankly, not enough.”
McGovern and others have argued that the programs should be allowed to co-exist.
“If it’s the defense budget, you know, nobody would ever have to decide between two missile systems,” he said. “They just made them both.”
Still, anti-hunger advocates applauded the creation of a permanent program during the summer. When low-income children often struggle to access nutritious food. The program will enable nearly 30 million families. With children nationwide to receive $40 a month to spend. On groceries through Electronic Benefit Transfer, or EBT, cards. “While it is very disappointing that their emergency appropriations were funded early. Congress took dollars from a temporary program to create permanent benefits. For these children,” said Lisa Davis. Senior vice president of the No Kid Hungry Campaign Share Our Strength.