New Yorkers prepare for end of extended SNAP food benefits

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 9:48 AM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New Yorkers, like others across the country, are starting to see the impacts of the end of pandemic-extended SNAP benefits.

Local food pantries say they expect to be busier in the coming months. “I’m not certain that we’ve seen the full impact yet of the diminishment of those benefits, said Dorothy Latte, organizer of the Plattsburgh Interfaith Food Pantry. She says rumors of the end of the extended benefits sprung people into action at the start of the year. “January and February, we saw about 300 more households and about 700 more people than we saw last year in the same month.”

Down the road at the Salvation Army’s food pantry, Major Robin Hager Holmes says they’re seeing the same. “We are seeing an increase where we used to do maybe 20 baskets a month, we’re now seeing about 60 baskets a month,” she said.

Krista Hesdorfer is with the group Hunger Solutions New York and says 2.8 million Empire State residents rely on SNAP benefits. “Some households will lose much more,” she said. “The SNAP emergency allotments provided a boost of $95 or brought households up to the maximum benefit amount for their household size, if they weren’t already receiving that.”

The group is recommending people look toward other federal programs and school programs, although barriers to transportation can make that difficult. “That’s one of the reasons SNAP is so effective and is important to have as an antihunger support,” said Hesdorfer. “It gets those food resources right to families.”

Hesdorfer also mentioned concerns regarding pandemic EBT boosts ending in the next year. “There are some really important hunger proposals at play in the state budget, including a push for free breakfast and lunch at school for all students,” Hesdorfer continued. “We’re also encouraging New York state to increase investments in SNAP outreach and application assistance and to fully fund the emergency food resources that folks are going to increasingly rely on with the change and SNAP benefits.”

Those losing the SNAP bonus aren’t the only ones worried about empty shelves. The cost of food is starting to become a concern for local food pantries. “We have some people that regularly bring us items, but at the same time we are seeing a hard time with ordering things through the food bank out of Albany,” Hager Holmes said.

“The price of food has doubled for us and we’re still using about the same amount of food,” Latta said. She says that pre-pandemic, they spent approximately $0.40 per pound on food and now they pay more than $1.00. “Ninety percent of our money goes to the cost of food. We’re all volunteers and we have just a few other expenses.”

The Plattsburgh Interfaith Food Pantry and Salvation Army say they’ll be there for their community and make it work. “We’re very grateful for what the community does for us because they help us help those that are in need,” Hager Holmes said.

Hunger Solutions New York provides resources to help people calculate their SNAP benefits.

Clinton County Social Services also maintains a list of food pantries.

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