AUSTIN (KXAN) – Texas families who have been getting extra money to buy food during the pandemic through the Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program (SNAP) will soon see a dramatic cut in their benefits. In March, all SNAP recipients – roughly 3.6 million Texans – will see a reduction of at least $95 a month, and other families seeing a cut of more than $400 a month.
Early on in the pandemic, Congress temporarily increased SNAP benefits by allowing states to give all recipients that maximum dollar amount per family size. Congress passed the Omnibus Appropriations Spending Bill late last year, which ends the temporary increase in allotment in February.
“In March, participants will have their benefits decreased back to their original benefit amount, which is calculated based on their income, the number of people in their family and their expenses,” Feeding Texas Director of Policy and Advocacy Jamie Olson said.
For example, the maximum monthly benefit for a family of four is $939. If this family’s regular monthly allotment is $500, they would have received $939 per month with the supplement. Starting in March 2023, their regular monthly benefit of $500 will resume, Texas Health and Human Services told KXAN.
An individual or family qualifies for SNAP benefits based on income and asset levels. A SNAP recipient must also be employed or actively looking for work to be eligible in the program. A Texan’s maximum monthly income to receive the benefits is $1,869, and for a family of four, $3,816.
“We do feel concerned,” Olson said. “I know a lot of folks might feel anxious about the benefits decreasing, and rightfully so. But our food bank network is here to help. And if anyone does need any emergency food assistance, they can find their local food bank at FeedingTexas.org”
The emergency allotment was always meant to be temporary, Olson said.
“During the pandemic, fortunately, Congress acted quickly and implemented the SNAP emergency allotments,” she said. “So we saw that food insecurity stayed relatively stable at around 13 to 14% of Texans from pre-pandemic, to post-pandemic.”
Though the emergency allotment is ending, Olson said in the same Omnibus Spending Bill was legislation that establishes a nationwide Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) grocery card program. This will give families of eligible children an extra $40 per month, per child for food, helping make up for the school meals that kids miss during summer break.
“That’s going to be a real game changer for students who are experiencing summer hunger,” she said. “Summer EBT is just going to make a huge difference.”