SNAP Benefits Cut After Three Years of Pandemic-Era Assistance
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal program that helps millions of Americans put food on the table each month, saw an emergency increase in benefits at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Now, after three years, the extra cash is officially ending, leaving many recipients with drastically reduced or potentially no benefits.
At the conclusion of February, the 32 remaining states that had not ended Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits early still had pandemic-era, additional federal assistance available for those who qualify. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 41 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to help put food on the table each month. If the SNAP boost is taken away, a lot of people who use this food program may have difficulty purchasing groceries.
The amount of SNAP benefits a household receives is based on their income; the lower the income, the more government assistance they receive. This assistance makes up the gap between the household's food budget and the maximum SNAP benefit available. SNAP is intended to help those it serves acquire nutritionally adequate food for their household, especially in times of unexpected financial difficulty. However, SNAP benefits will only equal about $6.10 per person per day in 2023.
Even though certain expenses, like rent, are decreasing, food prices remain elevated. The cost of nutrient-dense items such as eggs, which used to be relatively inexpensive, has increased due to global inflation and other factors. In January, figures on inflation revealed that the cost of groceries had actually risen, with the price of food bought to be consumed at home growing by 11.3 percent compared to the same time in January 2022. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that food prices in grocery stores and supermarkets will rise 8.6% in 2023.
As of March 1, SNAP benefits reverted close to their pre-pandemic levels, leading to households losing out on an extra $95 per month. For many households, the losses were much higher. The USDA implemented a $0.40 per person per meal increase during COVID-19 to help people get nutritious meals, but that is not enough to make up for the loss of SNAP benefits.
0. “Help is available for Texas families facing SNAP allotment reductions” KSAT San Antonio, 28 Feb. 2023, https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2023/02/28/help-is-available-for-texas-families-facing-snap-allotment-reductions/
1. “Covid-era SNAP boosts kept millions out of poverty. Now they’re gone.” Vox.com, 4 Mar. 2023, https://www.vox.com/policy/2023/3/4/23625015/snap-poverty-covid-benefits
2. “Older New Yorkers hit hard by the end of emergency SNAP benefits: “People are vaccinated, but people ain't eating.”” New York Daily News, 5 Mar. 2023, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-emergency-snap-ends-hunger-looms-seniors-20230305-yaegb23drvdxtbhcllcs2uqqtm-story.html
3. “Pandemic-era food stamps cut: ‘It's hard to figure out what to do next'” WISN Milwaukee, 3 Mar. 2023, https://www.wisn.com/article/pandemic-era-food-stamps-cut-its-hard-to-figure-out-what-to-do-next/43170460
4. “Emergency SNAP benefits ending, cuts of up to $95” KLFY, 1 Mar. 2023, https://www.klfy.com/louisiana/emergency-snap-benefits-ending-cuts-of-up-to-95
5. “Pandemic-era SNAP benefits ending across country” 14 News WFIE Evansville, 27 Feb. 2023, https://www.14news.com/2023/02/27/pandemic-era-snap-benefits-ending-across-country/