Beginning of March brings end to extra pandemic SNAP food benefits

Feb 28, 2023, 7:21 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2023, 1:25 am
food benefits...
The end of February brings the end of the extra emergency SNAP food allotments to families that the federal government put in during the pandemic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The end of February brings the end of the extra emergency SNAP food allotments to families that the federal government put in during the pandemic.

This program allowed states to give each family the maximum allotment of monthly food benefits for their household size. Families and individual recipients who were already at the maximum amount got an extra $95 per month.

Now, the loss of those extra food stamps will mean an average of $171 fewer per month for households.

Inflation brings jump in demand at local food banks

Babs Roberts with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) said with record inflation hitting in the last year, this is bad timing.

“This is a really tough time for families,” she said. “Inflation is not only impacting grocery prices, but is impacting rent, utilities, gas.”

There are 520,000 households getting SNAP benefits right now in Washington, totaling about 899,000 people. That’s more than Seattle’s population, meaning more than 11% of Washington’s population receives food assistance.

If you are in that 11%, do not despair, Roberts said. There are quite a few other state and local organizations you can turn to for help.

“There are definitely options, and I would encourage people to look at them,” she said. “We definitely would have folks looking for local resources call WIN-211 — the Washington Information Network, 2-1-1. They may have local resources that can help you supplement your food.”

Additionally, she suggested reaching out to DSHS to see if you might qualify for other assistance programs that can help supplement your food benefits. Your local food bank is also there to help.

The loss of extra SNAP benefits is likely to impact the local economy.

“The emergency allotments equated to something over $90 million in federal funds that came into this state and were spent in grocery stores and convenience stores every month,” she said. “And that’s an economic boon.”

More from Nicole Jennings: A Ukrainian refugee family’s story of finding a new home in Everett

Roberts also pointed out that the more people have to save their money for food, the less they are able to spend on non-food items at other local businesses.

The State House of Representatives just passed a bill to add $25 million to state food assistance programs, but that bill still needs to pass the Senate before it can become law.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

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Beginning of March brings end to extra pandemic SNAP food benefits