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How much could SNAP cuts affect your day to day?

The EA program, which gave SNAP recipients an extra $95 on average per month, has ended. What it means for families who will now have to make do with less.

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Starting at the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, Congress passed a law allowing the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to boost the amount households received from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Lawmakers, however, voted to end the Emergency Allotments (EA) as they were known as part of the Omnibus spending bill passed at the end of 2022.

While the SNAP EA program was in place it is estimated that it kept 4.2 million people out of poverty and reduced childhood poverty by 14 percent. As of 1 March, SNAP EA benefits ended in the 32 states that were still paying them along with the District of Columbia, Guam and the US Virgin Islands.

Households saw their monthly allotment drop by $95 on average, some will lose hundreds of dollars to put nutritious food on the table. For those that benefited from the increased payments, they will now have to make hard choices about what they spend their money on as the cost of living has increased. That will mean cutting back on how much they eat or putting off paying bills so they can put food on the table.

How much could SNAP cuts affect your day to day?

The expiration of EA benefits will reduce the average SNAP allotment to around $6.10 per person per day according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That is $1.35 higher than it would have been without the recent adjustment to the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP).

The Agriculture Department (USDA) adjusted the TFP, which is the basis of SNAP benefits, to better align the amount recipients get with the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet. Even so, many households that rely on SNAP benefits to put food on the table will begin to experience food hardships especially in light of recent food inflation and the end of free school lunches for all.

That will have a knock-on effect on children’s health, and their academic potential, as well as on the health of their caregivers and adults that rely on SNAP benefits. The adverse effects of ending a temporary boost in SNAP have already been seen before. After the Great Recession, Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 which increased benefits by 13.6 percent. It was supposed to go until 2014, but was ended a year early.

“We saw kids stop growing, being in fair-to-poor health and their caregivers being in fair-to-poor health,” Megan Sandel, a pediatrician and co-director of the Boston Medical Center’s Grow Clinic told NPR.

SNAP recipients will have to search for alternatives

The end of SNAP EA benefits will also force households to look for other ways to acquire food for their daily meals, mainly seeking out food banks. Even before the end of EA benefits, food banks had seen an increase in demand due to the rising cost of food. Ample Harvest provides a directory of over 8,000 food pantries in all 50 states to locate one near you. Those who need immediate help finding emergency food programs, food pantries, community meals, and more can call 211.

SNAP recipients can also look into getting twice the value out of the benefits they receive through the Double Up program. Begun in Detroit in 2009, it is now available in 25 states at over 900 locations. Double Up Food Bucks match every dollar of SNAP benefits spent on fresh fruit and vegetables.