When the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the stability of the American economy and workforce, Congress passed a bill in March 2020 allowing Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) “to provide additional emergency allotments to all SNAP households to help them navigate the initial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
These payments varied by SNAP household depending on household size and other factors, but were consistently at least $95 extra per month in addition to the regular SNAP payment.
At the end of 2022, Congress passed another bill, halting all emergency allotments nationwide beginning in March of 2023. While many states have already returned to normal benefit amounts, North Carolina is one of several states that was able to extend the benefits into the new year. However, these emergency allotments are now officially coming to an end this month.
This means that the more than 41 million Americans who receive SNAP benefits will experience a significant change in their benefit amounts for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. According to the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), “SNAP recipients of all ages will lose benefits, but the steepest cliff will be for older adults at the minimum benefit level who will have their monthly SNAP benefits fall from $281 to $23.”
While the USDA and FNS are working with local partners to ensure SNAP participants know about the impending change to their benefits, Come to the Table wanted to pass along this news to the many faith leaders and food programs in our network. We imagine this policy and the subsequent benefit change will likely impact many community members you serve and could affect the volume of clients you interact with come March.
Food and Nutrition Services recommends SNAP households reach out to their local SNAP office to find out additional information about this change. If your faith community manages a pantry or food donation ministry, it is worth paying attention to the number of clients coming through your doors and what kind of food services they are in need of. In fact, you might consider asking them if the SNAP emergency allotment decrease has affected their families and monthly spending.