Due to the expiration of their additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program pandemic benefits on April 15, many persons who receive food stamps in North Carolina may see their monthly allotments decline.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits were increased as a result of the American Rescue Plan, which allowed states such as North Carolina to waive certain eligibility requirements and provide households with the maximum amount for their household size, even if their income would otherwise qualify them for fewer SNAP dollars.
Those additional benefits will be eliminated on April 15 unless Congress grants a last-minute extension of the deadline.
In response, Tina Postel, executive director of the Charlotte-based Loaves and Fishes food pantry network, predicts a rise in the number of people seeking assistance from food banks and food pantries.
According to Postel, “It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw a 5 to 7 percent spike in the next month or two, solely due to the expiration of these benefits.”
It comes at a time when many food banks are already feeling the strain of increased food and gas prices. Because of the high cost of gas,
Postel claims that basic staples such as peanut butter and ground turkey have become much more expensive, and some senior volunteers on fixed incomes have had to reduce the number of food deliveries they can make.
According to Mike Darrow, executive director of the Feeding the Carolina food bank network, the need for food banks across the state remains high when compared to the period prior to the pandemic.
The demand for food remains particularly strong in rural, low-income regions near mountains and the ocean, according to Darrow, who also noted that many schools and workplace food drives that were suspended during the outbreak have yet to resume.
Despite this, Darrow believes that food banks and pantries will be able to make it over the next several months.
We are a resilient group of people, and we are committed to feeding as many of our friends and neighbors in North Carolina as we possibly can,” he said.
In December 2021, more than 1.7 million North Carolinians were receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments, a 19 percent increase over the previous year.
SNAP payments were obtained by more than 41 million persons across the country in the fiscal year 2022.