Pre-Pandemic SNAP benefits returning

Covid cases have finally dropped to a manageable level and things are starting to get back to some sense of normalcy in our everyday lives. We can go to concerts, go out to eat, and no more masks! While we may be celebrating the end of a very scary time, there are families across America that will suffer with temporary government benefits going back to ‘normal.’

Back in 2020, in the peak of Covid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) saw a monthly boost to help with additional struggles caused by the pandemic. Coming March 2023, both individual persons and families will receive anywhere from $90 to $440 less than they were getting during the pandemic.

2022 saw one of the largest annual increases in food costs since the 1970’s alone, with over a 10% increase in prices. And even though the SNAP program takes the rise of the cost of living into consideration, the program cannot keep up with fast inflation rates. The SNAP program, despite its efforts, is failing some families.  

Yes, people are back to work and kids are back in school but what will this change mean for low income families? We are still experiencing record high inflation which is very present in the food industry. I think we have all seen how much these inflation rates are affecting our own budget on groceries lately. I had to pay $10 for a watermelon the other day. $10 for a watermelon!

Low income families will be expected to go back to a budget that was made for prices that existed over three years ago. As someone who grew up in a rural, low income area, I know how hard of a hit this will be for some beneficiaries of the SNAP program.

Food insecurity was very present in my childhood. My family and I experienced it but there were much worse cases around me. Some of the children I went to school with had one meal a day, and that was the meal they got at school. Some kids would go around asking for any left overs that the rest of us had so they could take it home. As summer neared at the end of each school year, most of us couldn’t wait for it to start, but a classmate on my bus mentioned that he and his little brother ate a lot less over the summer because they couldn’t get school lunches.

Seeing these things as I grew up allows me to understand what kind of effects the SNAP benefits being reduced will have on families and children everywhere. Even if it is just a percentage that is reduced, it will make a world of difference in someone’s budget for not only food but access to food. The fact that these budgets include more than just the food itself has to be taken into consideration as well. SNAP benefits allow more financial flexibility when it comes to costs for gas to get to the grocery store, vehicle maintenance to keep it in working order, and allows room for childcare if it is needed. We’re not just talking about food here. This change will affect many aspects of someone’s life and is important that people who do not struggle with food insecurity know of changes like this in government assistance programs.

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