Food Stamp Recipients’ Biggest Concerns (and How To Cope) Ahead of March SNAP Cuts
A large number of SNAP recipients across the U.S. will be receiving less money for food beginning in March, when Emergency Allotments (EA) given out during the pandemic will disappear across the nation.
See: When Scheduled SNAP Benefits Are Sent in March 2023
Find: Costco’s Best Deals? Employee Reveals 10 Standout Buys for Your Money
Eighteen states have already ended EA benefits. So participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in those states have already had to adjust their grocery budgets.
As of March 1, all other states will join Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming in reducing SNAP benefits.
How will this affect you? And what can you do if you’ve been affected by the reduction?
Expect Less SNAP Benefits, Especially if You Also Collect Social Security
Every household receiving SNAP assistance will receive at least $95 per month less than they were during the pandemic, according to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Some households with slightly higher incomes could see a decrease of $250 per month or more. The average individual, according to the report, will receive $90 less per month.
Social Security recipients could also see a drop in food stamp benefits. SNAP benefits are determined by income, and Social Security recipients recently received a cost of living allowance (COLA) increase of 8.7% to help keep pace with inflation. This SSI increase, however, could mean less money in SNAP benefits.
Review Your Income and Expenses With Your State Agency
Before you panic about having less money for food, check in with your state agency that manages SNAP distributions. Make sure your records reflect your current income, shelter costs, and other allowable expenses. If you have a disabled person or an adult aged 60+ in your home, you can deduct recurring medical costs that exceed $35 per month. Take all the deductions permitted, since it could mean you are entitled to a higher monthly SNAP benefit — one that could help offset the loss of EA funds.
Write to Your State Legislature
Some states are considering increasing SNAP allotments out of their own funds. For instance, AARP reported that New Jersey will be giving SNAP recipients an additional $95 in food assistance benefits over the federal minimum of $23 per month.
Research to see what programs your state may have in mind, and then write to your legislature lobbying in favor of SNAP increases.
Consider Ways To Cut Your Food Budget While Still Eating Healthy
Once you’ve reviewed your application to ensure you are receiving the benefits you are entitled to, take an honest look at your food budget and needs. You may be able to save money by using shopping apps like Honey, which searches the internet for the best deals and coupon codes.
GOBankingRates recently reported that more dollar stores, including Dollar General, are offering fresh produce, eggs, and milk to help shoppers stretch their grocery budgets — and these locations also often take SNAP EBT payments.
With spring around the corner, you might also consider planting a garden for access to fresh vegetables. You can even purchase seeds with your SNAP benefits.
Of course, these solutions may not work for everyone due to time, space, or physical constraints.
Seek Help Through Other Programs
Local food pantries, often run by churches, schools, or other organizations, may be able to help you with pantry staples, non-perishable items, and even household goods like paper towels and toilet paper.
Learn: How Ending Enhanced SNAP Benefits Could Hurt Walmart, Dollar Stores
Explore: Will Ending SNAP Emergency Funds Hurt Biden 2030 Anti-Hunger Goal?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has other Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs besides SNAP. You can check out a full list on their website.
More From GOBankingRates
- 10 US Real Estate Markets To Avoid for Now
- Financial Insight in Your Inbox: Sign Up for GBR's Daily Newsletter
- Maximize your savings with these 3 expert tips
- Take Our Poll: How Do You File Your Taxes?