AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas families who received extra money to buy food during the pandemic through the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) will soon face a sharp cut in their benefits. In March, all SNAP recipients—an estimated 3.6 million Texans—will see a cut of at least $95 a month, and other families will see more than $400 a month cut.
At the start of the pandemic, Congress temporarily increased SNAP benefits, allowing states to pay all recipients the maximum dollar amount per family size. Late last year, Congress passed the Cumulative Appropriations Bill, which ended the temporary appropriation increase in February.
“In March, member payments will be reduced to the original benefit amount, which is calculated based on their income, the number of people in their household, and their expenses,” said Feeding Texas policy and advocacy director Jamie Olson.
For example, the maximum monthly allowance for a family of four is $939. If this family’s regular monthly payment is $500, they would receive $939 per month with the supplement. Beginning in March 2023, their regular $500 monthly benefit will resume, Texas Health and Human Services told KXAN.
An individual or family is eligible for SNAP benefits based on income and assets. A SNAP recipient must also be employed or actively seeking work to be eligible for the program. The maximum monthly income for a Texan for benefits is $1,869 and for a family of four is $3,816.
“We’re really concerned,” Olsen said. “I know a lot of people may be worried about reduced benefits, and rightfully so. But our network of food banks is ready to help. And if anyone needs emergency food assistance, they can find a local food bank at FeedingTexas.org.”
According to Olsen, the emergency allotment was always meant to be temporary.
“Fortunately, during the pandemic, Congress acted quickly and implemented emergency SNAP appropriations,” she said. “So what we’ve seen is that food insecurity has remained relatively stable at 13 to 14% of Texans from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic.”
While the emergency allocation of funds is ending, Olsen said the same consolidated spending bill had legislation establishing a nationwide Summer Electronic Benefit (EBT) program for grocery cards. This will give families of eligible children an additional $40 per month per child for meals to help make up for the school meals children miss during the summer break.
“This will really be a game changer for students who are experiencing summer hunger,” she said. “Summer EBT will make a huge difference.”