Food stamp beneficiaries have received additional money each month since the beginning of the epidemic to help offset lost wages resulting from the outbreak and, more recently, increased food prices.
With congressional action ending the additional program funding, the emergency allotments will stop at the end of February.
With a minimum allocation of $95 and a maximum permitted allotment based on family size, the increased benefits allowed SNAP members to obtain the maximum amount.
A household of one that has been given the highest allowance for the past three years—currently $281—could get as little as the $23 minimum monthly payment in March.
4,511 people, or more than 8% of the 56,250 residents of the county, are SNAP recipients. In Montezuma County, 4,598 people participate in the program, or over 18% of the population, while 1,535 people in Archuleta County receive food assistance benefits, or 11% of the population.
Every SNAP beneficiary in the state will notice a decrease in benefits, according to John Rosa, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Human Services. The average monthly benefit for a four-person household will be decreased by $360; each individual will notice a drop of $90 in their monthly allocation.
The emergency distributions were initially given approval by Congress as a temporary measure. The Consolidated Appropriations Bill, 2023, which was signed on December 29 by President Joe Biden, does not include funding for the allocation.
The modification applies to a little more than half of the states that still get emergency funding. Director of the Department of Human Services for La Plata County Martha Johnson warned the county commissioners on Wednesday that “it will throw thousands of people into catastrophe.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the cost of groceries has increased by almost 12% in the last 12 months. Despite the impending cuts, most SNAP participants appear to be ignorant of the adjustment.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ryan, who declined to give his last name, has relied on SNAP payments to sustain both himself and his mother.
He expressed his unhappiness while buying groceries at the Durango Natural Foods Co-op by saying, “I’m not pleased, largely because my world is in upheaval.”
“I look after my mum, who has autoimmune problems and diabetes. Right now, I’m only employed part-time. Unfortunately, this will have a significant negative impact on us. We have remained steady because of that. Food is important because we have a limited budget.
While serving in the Southwest Conservation Corps last year, Robby Stu got the maximum allowance for a single-person family. His food needs might be covered by his benefits of $250 per month.
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Now that SNAP benefits have been restored, Stu wants to go back to low-paying conservation work. I’m broke because I spend all my money on food, remarked Stu. I pray to God I don’t receive 23 dollars.
The Durango-based organization Manna is getting ready for a surge in visitors. Manna operates a soup kitchen and a food market where people in need can choose food to prepare.
Christina Bolt, Manna’s participant support manager, said, “We already serve several people who do receive that full allocation.” In addition, she noted that as people use up their monthly allotment, the number of visitors usually increases at the end of the month.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program and Care and Share, a local supplier of food banks, have both started supplying supplies to Manna to stock the market.
Potatoes, pork, and other basic ingredients for cooking are provided to food banks through the Department of Agriculture’s TEFAP program.
Bolt claimed that while the company had previously only requested components for hot meals from TEFAP, it is now broadening its demands to keep up with the anticipated rise in demand.
Our retirees and people on disability will be significantly impacted, Bolt claimed. Food stamps are a major source of support for single women with children, so this will undoubtedly have a significant impact.
The transition will upset SNAP recipients in March, according to Johnson in an interview with The Durango Herald. The first week of the month is usually when accounts receive standard benefits, and the second week is when emergency benefits are allocated.
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The final emergency allotment will not be distributed until the third week of February to facilitate the transition. She also mentioned that other initiatives are working to mobilize to handle the anticipated rise in the number of people needing food assistance.
Inquire about your eligibility for the Women, Infants, and Children program by contacting San Juan Basin Public Health if you get SNAP benefits.
Megan Graham, a spokeswoman for the SJBPH, stated in a news release that “the majority of SNAP-eligible families also qualify for WIC benefits, which include nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and a debit card to buy an ever-expanding list of healthy foods at a variety of Colorado supermarkets.” “WIC households can also benefit from additional benefits like discounted community shares,”
Those who have relied on SNAP during the pandemic still feel the difference, despite the available alternate resources. For those who most require assistance, it is terrible, Ryan added. “We are the ones in true pain.”