Emergency SNAP payments ending, cutting overall benefits

Published 8:45 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

CHARLOTTE COURT HOUSE – A change is coming next month for those receiving assistance from the SNAP program as COVID-19 policies are slowly fading out and life gets closer to what was considered normal. Here is what is changing and what folks can expect.

Starting on March 1, the emergency allotments for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will officially end. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, helps low-income individuals and families buy nutritious food. This is a federal program that is run locally by the state.

What is changing with SNAP?

In March 2020 at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family First Coronavirus Act of 2020 passed to create an emergency allotment to help those already on SNAP to receive more assistance as the world and jobs shut down. Instead of the assistance being based on income, it was changed to the number of members in the household. Those already receiving maximum benefits received an extra $95 instead.

“This was something approved month to month so they were never sure when it would be renewed until that month came,” said Carolyn Hammock, self-sufficiency operator at Prince Edward County Social Security.

According to the Virginia Department of Social Services, there are 910,000 people currently receiving SNAP benefits which equals about 465,000 households across Virginia.

A recent bill will stop this emergency allotment next month.

Congress recently passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023 making the SNAP payments in March return to the pre-pandemic amounts. SNAP benefits will return to being based on income instead of those in the household.

Some alternative options

According to VDSS, there is no say on whether these emergency allotments will ever return. However, for now, SNAP is returning to its pre-pandemic status. Even though the pandemic is over, many families on SNAP are still struggling to put food on the table. VDSS has provided resources to help these families and individuals still get the help they need.

“We are sensitive that ending the temporary relief that the SNAP Emergency Allotments provided families may cause some hardship,” said a spokesperson from VDDS. “VDSS has supportive programs in place to help reduce the strain some families face. We encourage families to take advantage of other social services programs and to visit our online portal CommonHelp to learn more about other benefit programs that are available.”

Other programs available include the new Low Income Households Water Assistance Program which helps households pay for water and wastewater utilities and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which helps families pay for childcare through Child Care Subsidy. There are also programs to help with medical needs through the Department of Medical Assistance Services.

VDSS has partnered with the Federation of Food Banks, FeedMore and other food banks to help those facing food insecurities. There are more food resources on the Department of Medical Assistance Services which can help find food pantries and other nonprofits that can help with food insecurities.

To learn more about these changes and find other resources, visit dss.virginia.gov/benefit/snap.cgi, commonhelp.virginia.gov or call 855-635-4370. For resources statewide and local contact 2-1-1 Virginia at 211virginia.org or call 1-800-230-6977.