WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Americans who rely on SNAP benefits will soon see a cut in their monthly payments as the extra cash added during the pandemic expires starting in February.
The federal government says millions of low-income Americans must prepare to cut. In February for South Carolina and in March for 32 other states, millions of people will lose about $95 in additional monthly benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Seventeen states have already ended pandemic-era SNAP benefits: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
Stacy Dean, undersecretary for food and nutrition at the US Department of Agriculture, said the extra funds were part of a pandemic-era program.
“This has always been extra, temporary help.” Dean said.
The decrease comes as the national inflation rate remains high, especially on the cost of food.
Dean said the federal government has already increased both upfront and social security payments to combat rising consumer costs. SNAP benefits were increased 27% last year to account for the cost of living.
Social Security payments were increased by the largest amount in 40 years this January after annual cost-of-living adjustments.
While grateful for the adjustments, Vince Hall with Feeding America he said they’re just not enough.
“We’ve gone from a pandemic crisis to a hunger crisis and people who work full-time can’t afford rent, gas, electricity and food,” Hall said.
He expects the already long lines at food banks to get longer.
“(This) will create more problems in our mission to make sure nobody goes hungry,” Hall said.
Hall is urging lawmakers to make permanent changes to SNAP in the upcoming agriculture bill to help struggling families.
“Eventually, Congress writes the rules,” he said.
The USDA is encouraging families to prepare their budgets and apply for any other food assistance programs.
Due to increases in Social Security, which is classified as unearned income, seniors could see a decrease in their SNAP payments, but Dean says the chances of seniors losing SNAP benefits all together are rare.