Food Stamp Cuts Are Here, But we Can Take Action
Valley News Op Ed by Michael Redmond
Friday, March 10, 2023
The Valley News recently reported on the impact of ending a COVID-era increase in benefits for individuals and families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), sometimes called food stamps (“Food Pantries Brace for End of Benefits” by NPR’s Paul Cuno-Booth, March 3, 2023). As this article noted, the federal government had approved a temporary increase in these benefits early in the pandemic, but legislation passed this past December returned the amount of this benefit to these pre-pandemic levels starting this March.
COVID relief made a real impact on hunger and food insecurity across the nation and in Vermont and New Hampshire. The USDA reported last September of significant improvements in food insecurity for everyone in part due to SNAP benefit increases. For households with kids, it was measured at a two-decade low.
The loss of the SNAP “Emergency Allotment” program that just took effect will make a big difference. It’s not hard to see why this is the case when you look at the numbers. In Vermont, over 41,000 people will be affected by these benefit cuts; in New Hampshire, over 35,000. Each state will lose about $7 million in total federal benefits per month that won’t be added to the local economy.
The impact on individuals will be severe and is relatively sudden, making this transition very challenging. For some people, including seniors, the loss of this “emergency allotment” will be devastating. Someone earning $25,000 annually who was receiving $281 of SNAP benefits each month under the COVID program will now get just $23 to supplement food purchases. Karen Hebert, director of Economic Stability at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services has stated that 65% of SNAP households will see an average monthly decrease of $108, the rest will lose an average of $154.
Everyone in the Vermont and New Hampshire programs will see their benefits decrease, but the impact will be greatest for those on fixed incomes. At a time of continued rapid inflation in many food items, these cuts will only make life harder.
So that’s the bad news. What can be done? Read more here.