Written by: Krystal Lee
Millions of American households currently rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as food stamps, to help meet their basic needs. Unfortunately, these individuals are about to lose hundreds of dollars from their monthly grocery budget due to cuts in the 2023 Omnibus spending bill.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Congress increased SNAP benefits through emergency allotments (EAs). These temporary benefits helped push back against food insecurity that the pandemic brought. A study published in August 2022, by the Urban Institute, estimated that EAs kept 4.2 million Americans above the poverty line in the last quarter of 2021. This effectively reduced the rate of poverty by 10 percent in states with EAs. The approaching SNAP budget cut will pose a serious concern to struggling individuals.
Anarticle published by FoodTank predicts that, “older adults, who are typically part of smaller households and receive the minimum benefit level, will likely feel these cuts the hardest. FRAC estimates that they will see their allotments fall from US$281 to pre-pandemic levels, just US$23 per month.”
To make matters worse, the cost of food continues to rise. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that food prices have risen by an average of 2.5% per year over the past decade. Cuts to SNAP benefits will make it even more difficult for families to access healthy and nutritious food. Congress argues that although the Omnibus bill will reduce pandemic EAs, it will expand summer feeding options. However, experts are not convinced this is a fair trade-off. Ellen Vollinger, SNAP Director for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) tells Food Tank news outlet that the new benefits are “modest compared to the magnitude of dollars that we’re talking about here with the emergency allotments.”
In a time when assistance is needed most, it is being taken away. Countless households are still recovering from financial effects of COVID-19. Coupled with the steady rise in food cost, our nation is just inches away from plunging off a looming hunger cliff.
Luckily, there are resources available for those facing food insecurity in the midst of cut backs. One resource that WhyHunger offers is the WhyHunger Hotline. It connects those in need with over 30,000 locations nationwide to access healthy food in their communities and government
nutrition programs via call, text or online search. If you or someone you know is struggling to find healthy food, WhyHunger can help. You can help too! Click here to help promote the WhyHunger Hotline. Share this blog post and use hashtag #ProtectSNAP on socials.
Krystal is the WhyHunger Communications intern. She has a background in nutrition and dietetics and previously worked as a school dietitian in Union City, NJ. She is interested in social media marketing and graphic design. When she’s not working, Krystal spends her time cooking or looking for the best restaurants to eat at!