OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Emergency benefits that have helped boost payments to SNAP recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic are set to end soon, leaving families with less money and high grocery prices.
SNAP, which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, used to be called the Food Stamp Program. For nearly three years, households have been receiving an additional $95 or more on top of their normal allotment.
In 17 states, those added emergency benefits have already expired as of January 2023. Those states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wyoming, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
In one state, South Carolina, the emergency allotment will expire after the January 2023 payments are issued.
In the remaining 32 states, plus Washington, D.C., Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the extra money will dry up starting with the March 2023 benefit month, according to the FNS.
Oklahoma is one of the states where the added benefits are set to expire.
“The agency knows these additional benefits have been critical to meeting the needs of Oklahomans during such difficult times,” acknowledged Deb Smith, Director of Adult and Family Services.
Oklahoma state officials said people should plan for a return to their pre-pandemic SNAP benefits beginning March 1.
“We know that these increased benefits have been important to so many Oklahomans over the last three years and that this change will impact some SNAP users harder than others, particularly our senior and disabled neighbors,” said Chris Bernard, President/CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma. “Undoubtedly, this will create an increased demand on our charitable organizations across the state and an increased need for Oklahomans to support their local food pantries and food banks.”
In 2021, more than 41 million Americans were using SNAP benefits to help afford food.
Households that also receive Social Security payments may see their SNAP benefits shrink even more than $95. That’s because as the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment for 2023 kicks in, it increases those households’ incomes, and may reduce the amount of SNAP help they’re eligible for.
FNS estimates nearly half of SNAP households also receive Social Security, and most will see a change in their SNAP benefits as a result of the 8.7% Social Security boost. “However, all impacted households will experience a net gain, as the adjustment increases Social Security benefits more than it decreases SNAP benefits,” the agency said.