Tens of millions of Americans in 32 states will see the pandemic boost to their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits expire at the end of February.
That means less money to spend on food each month, even as inflation remains near 40-year highs.
At the start of the COVID-19 crisis when millions of people lost their jobs, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act in 2020 to temporarily boost SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, to help low-income families.
The extra allotments were intended to expire when the pandemic ended. President Joe Biden reportedly intends to declare the end of the pandemic in May, and Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act to end the additional allotments.
Even though the expiration of the supplemental benefits has been known, it’s still putting people on edge. The boost kept 4.2 million people out of poverty, according to a study from the Urban Institute, a think tank.
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Will SNAP supplements expire in every state?
Some states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming — have already stopped issuing pandemic-era SNAP emergency allotments, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In March, recipients in the remaining 32 states, plus Washington, DC, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands will stop receiving the extra SNAP funds.
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How much will SNAP recipients lose?
Every SNAP household will see at least $95 a month less, but some will see reductions of $250 a month or more, according to the nonpartisan research and policy institute Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The average person will receive about $90 a month less in SNAP benefits, it says.
But with high inflation, especially for food, the loss could feel even worse.
“We’re trying to get the word out, so people know SNAP participants are going to see a reduction and it’s going to go back to what it was before the pandemic,” said Man-Yee Lee, spokesperson at the Greater Chicago Food Depository , which supplies hundreds of food pantries. “That could make sense, except food prices are so high now.”
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Who will be affected?
About 42 million Americans receive SNAP benefits. Some have already been affected by earlier expirations, but others may feel it in this round. Expirations cover more states this time, 32, including some of the most popular like California, Illinois and Texas.
Some seniors may feel a double whammy. After receiving a 8.7% cost of living adjustment in January, the largest since 1981, some seniors already saw their SNAP benefits drop. That’s because the benefits are calculated using factors such as income, certain expenses and the number of people in your household. Social Security counts toward income.
Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at [email protected] and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.