- A temporary pandemic-related boost to SNAP benefits nationwide, known as emergency allotments, is ending this month due to a law that Congress passed at the end of 2022. The change, which takes effect following the issuance of SNAP benefits for February, impacts 29 states, Guam and Washington, D.C., per the USDA.
- The average SNAP participant will receive about $90 less in SNAP benefits per month due to the change, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
- “It’s not just low-income participants who lose their ability to be able to purchase food. It’s going to impact grocery stores. It’s going to impact farmers markets. It’s going to impact everyone who sells and produces [food],” Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said during a recent online panel hosted by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
While the impact of the change will affect SNAP households differently depending on their size, income and other factors, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that SNAP households will receive at least $95 less per month, with some higher income ones seeing reductions of $250 or more.
The nonpartisan research and policy institute cited a study that said emergency allotments prevented 4.2 million people from falling below the poverty line in the last quarter of 2021, benefiting Black and Latino SNAP participants the most.
The emergency allotments were provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, a law that Congress passed in March 2020. The passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, at the end of last year ends those emergency funds to SNAP. Eighteen states, including Arizona, Georgia, Idaho and Montana, had already stopped issuing emergency allotments.
In states that still have the extra SNAP benefits, SNAP participants will see their benefits return to normal amounts starting in March. Maryland is one such state that is impacted.
“In Maryland, when we have emergency allotments and people are getting the maximum benefit, it means a total of SNAP benefits coming to our state of about $2 billion as opposed to without emergency allotment, it’s about $1 billion,” Wilson said during the FRAC event.
When people lose those additional funds at the end of February, Wilson said they will turn to food and hunger organizations to answer their questions and help resolve concerns.
More than 41 million people in the U.S. receive food-buying SNAP benefits, per the USDA.
Grocers have been working in recent years to boost their reach to SNAP participants, including through e-commerce. The change in benefits amounts will likely lower SNAP participants’ spending power at grocery stores.
Retailers are among the stakeholders the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests play an active role in reminding SNAP participants in the affected states about the end of emergency allotments.
During the FRAC panel, hunger advocates noted that the ending of the emergency allotments comes at a time when consumers are grappling with raging food inflation. Prices for eggs — a traditional grocery staple — have skyrocketed recently due to last year’s bird flu outbreak.
“The end of the temporary [emergency allotments] will be a significant change that will increase food hardship for many individuals and families, given the modest amount of basic SNAP benefits and high recent inflation in food prices,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted. “Without the [extra benefits], SNAP benefits will average only about $6.10 per person per day in 2023.”