SNAP emergency benefits coming to an end in February
KTUL - February 3, 2023 7:08 am
Oklahomans receiving SNAP emergency benefits will see changes to their monthly allotment beginning March 1.
For some Oklahomans, that extra stipend was critical to afford their basic needs.
“I’m worried that it’s going to cause a lot of problems with people not being able to afford food,” Sherri Newlon, one of the impacted individuals, said.
Newlon’s mom was receiving $200 per month in SNAP emergency benefits.
Now, she worries not only about how this change will impact her mother but also everyone who must adjust to the change since the pandemic.
“They’re not going to be able to get half the food they were getting pre-pandemic,” Newlon said. “It really worries me about what’s going to happen. Things are so much higher than they were two, three years ago.”
SNAP emergency benefits were introduced in April 2020 in response to the pandemic, and since then, the cost of food has risen exponentially.
Now with the emergency benefits coming to an end, Oklahomans have no choice but to budget a return to pre-pandemic benefits with post-pandemic food costs.
“This will impact approximately 300,000 families in Oklahoma, so if you’re looking at actual participants, that number would be more in the 800,000 range,” Deborah Smith, director of Adult and Family Services, said.
Since emergency benefits were put in place, recipients had received an additional allotment of $95 a month to hundreds depending on their income, household size, and other assets, but come March, that additional allotment will be gone.
“An example might be they were receiving $5 or $600 in the regular SNAP allotment and they were receiving an additional allotment of $2 or $300, so they’ll lose that amount, but the original amount will stay intact,” Smith said.
She said the impact on some families will be significant, particularly for the elderly and those with disabilities who are on a set budget.
“I think many people will need to turn to community resources to help during this transition,” Smith said. “We encourage people to reach out and ask for help. We have a lot of great resources, great community partners in Oklahoma that stand ready to fill that gap for Oklahoma families.”
One of those resources is Hunger Free Oklahoma.
“Don’t go hungry; go find another place that you can access charitable food,” Chris Bernard, president and CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma, said. “Those networks should be ready and are getting ready and are going to serve people until they can’t.”
Bernard said there are various resources available that people don’t know about which can help families during this transition.
“If you have kids, and you haven’t looked at WIC, then that’s something you should look at because it gives you an extra stipend for not only fruits and veggies, but milk and eggs these things that the prices have really gone up,” Bernard said.
“You can look at our website there’s a program called Double Up Oklahoma that we run that makes snap dollars’ worth twice as much,” he added. “Well, we match up to $20 a day to go towards fresh produce to stretch your dollars.”
Bernard also said it’s crucial to make sure all your information is up to date with SNAP to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits you’re entitled to.