Vehicles snake around the parking lot of a chapel belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to pick up food from the Utah Food Bank in Taylorsville on Monday, April 13, 2020. Consumers are worried about food prices in 2023.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

These are all true: The end of higher benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a drop from what low-income families have recently received to help pay for food. Still, SNAP benefits are more robust than pre-pandemic. And inflation continues to rage.

When COVID-19 emergency declarations ended, so did extra food benefits for households that qualify for SNAP (formerly food stamps). As of March 1, they’re gone, prompting fears that with high food prices due to inflation, local food banks will see a surge they may not be able to handle.

Those worried about the impact on families consider it the perfect storm: Less money for food, high inflation, the potential for a food bank surge and fewer donations to meet those needs.

Others object to the notion that families will suffer. And they worry about whether people who use SNAP are getting proper nutrition, especially given the nation’s obesity epidemic.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Angela Rachidi, a poverty scholar, and Thomas O’Rourke, a research assistant, recently wrote on the institute’s blog that the government is stopping its “extra benefits.” But they said that now that the change has occurred, “SNAP benefits remain almost 50% higher today than they were before the pandemic due to inflation adjustments and permanent benefit increases. Rather than cutting benefits, SNAP benefits remain at historically high levels.”

There’s no question, though, that families will have less in benefits starting in March than most had in February. Some states ended extra benefits early, but the rest expired as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 — the omnibus bill.

Some questions are yet to be answered: Will families that rely on SNAP be cutting out extras or basics? And will food banks see a surge?

Rethinking SNAP

SNAP allocations have been based on the Thrifty Food Plan — which was adjusted significantly for the first time in decades in 2022, providing a 23% increase. Beneficiaries also received a …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


Pandemic SNAP benefits are gone. Will food banks see a surge?

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