COVID-Era SNAP Benefits have Officially Ended COVID-Era SNAP Benefits have Officially Ended

Syracuse, NY. (NCC News)- The average household with SNAP benefits lost $95 in grocery money this past Wednesday. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, ended the extra benefits brought upon during the pandemic.

As inflation runs high, many Americans are left struggling. Many families got used to the extra groceries, and will have to make a sudden adjustment.

St. Lucy’s Food Pantry is located in Syracuse. They service residents of the city. They have had a 25% increase in clients in the past six months.

“During COVID and with all of the unemployment we had people coming here who had never been to a food pantry for the first time” said Murray Gould, Director of the pantry.

St. Lucy’s is trying to do all they can to help their clients. They operate using a points system. The larger the family, the more food they get. Some of their food, like bread and dairy, are free.

Gould and the rest of the staff can’t do anything to help the economy and inflation rates. Factors like these can affect the amount of SNAP benefits people get.

“The largest increase in social security was for this year,” Gould said. “So if you’re a senior, you get an increase in social security, so your income goes up. A lot of people, because your income goes up, it means you get less SNAP benefits.”

The extra SNAP benefits ending is a national policy, but state policies play a part in how food pantries and banks operate as well. New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced her proposal for the state executive budget for the upcoming year. The budget cuts 22 million dollars from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program. This makes it harder for food banks to produce the amount of food they need, which bleeds into the operation of food pantries.

Many New Yorkers are going to feel the removal of extra SNAP benefits and the underfunding of the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition and Assistance Program quickly. It is pantries like St. Lucy’s that are going to be their saving grace.

Many have argued for state-funded universal free school meals to help take some of the weight off of struggling families. California, Colorado and Maine made this policy permanent after enacting it during the pandemic.

The state budget will be approved by the State Senate by Apr. 1. It is unclear if any changes will be made.

Jackie Tucker: How you doin? Sup Wiley Coyote.

Olivia Maniscalco: Saint Lucy’s food pantry happily serves city of Syracuse residents… Those who receive SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, are able to come in and pick their food like it is a grocery store…

Tucker: “You always have to follow the chart. The proteins, they get ten points. Now the proteins can be tuna fish, canned chicken, peanut butter, or anything else from this point on.”

Maniscalco: Starting today, though, emergency SNAP benefits put in effect because of the pandemic are ending… The average household is losing 95 dollars in groceries per month… Director of Saint Lucy’s Food Pantry Murray Gould is worried his clients are going to struggle without the extra benefits…

Murray Gould:“It gave additional amounts while we were in this period of COVID now you take it away. You go to the grocery store, you know what the prices are at the grocery store. It’s tremendous pressure on the people of our society that are most in need. So we expect people to really see the effect of that immediately.”

Maniscalco: And it’s not just SNAP programs that are losing some funding. Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed state budget would cut millions from local food banks and pantries.”

Gould: “You reduce those programs, you’re gonna reduce the ability of organizations like food banks which are the providers to us and then in turn we have less ability to have quality goods to give to our clients. So we’re reaching out to our state senators and assembly representatives to tell them to keep the funding for those two key programs at the same level. It’s a bad time to be cutting programs for people that are so desperate in need.”

Maniscalco: Saint Lucy’s food pantry will continue to do all they can to provide adequate food for their clients… Olivia Maniscalco, NCC News …

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