DENVER (KDVR) — If you receive SNAP benefits in Colorado, expect to see a reduction in your monthly benefits starting in March. The federal government has ended emergency allotments issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reduction is going to impact millions nationwide and hundreds or thousands in Colorado. As FOX31 heard from recipients on Tuesday, the extra boost in benefits has been life-saving for many, and a big worry is that food prices are rising while benefits are decreasing.
COVID-19 exacerbated food insecurities in the U.S. and forced people to lean on supportive programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to survive. For some, the benefits determine whether or not food is on the table.
Emergency SNAP benefits boosted food aid
For the past two years, the emergency allotments — roughly a 15% boost for those eligible — were given to recipients like Kaycee Yagovane.
“I’ve struggled sometimes with being able to afford the basic necessities,” she said.
Yagovane shared with FOX31 that she became homeless during the pandemic and applied for benefits, saying the extra money is vital.
“During COVID, with the extra allotment that they’ve been giving, it’s been lifesaving. I’ve been able to actually fully eat every day and have the energy to work,” Yagovane said.
The Problems Solvers went to Denver Human Services last year after some were experiencing delays in receiving benefits. A spokesperson with the department said they’ve seen a large influx in applications as employees put in overtime to process them.
But those emergency allotments are about to come to a screeching halt at the end of February under a new government spending bill, which means Colorado families will be issued less money in March.
“When I heard the news, I was a little bit angry and a little bit disappointed,” Yagovane said. “How many people are going to be affected.”
Family of 4 to lose $360 a month
According to the state’s Department of Human Services, SNAP serves more than 290,000 households and 540,000 individuals in Colorado each month. They report that, on average, recipients are expected to lose $90 per person a month or around $360 for a family of four.
Yagovane said she gets about $250 a month now, but things will drastically change in March.
“I’m going to be around $30-$40 because I’m right at the income threshold,” she shared. “It wouldn’t take me through the month and so I fear I’m going to go hungry.”
With soaring inflation, gas prices and the high cost of living, Yagovane said the extra help for her and thousands of others is still necessary.
Colorado’s Department of Human Services is offering tips to help with the transition.
- Roll over unused SNAP benefits to the next month. Unused benefits can remain on EBT cards for up to nine months. This may help cushion the impact of the reduction in benefits.
- Stock up on non-perishable items now, while you have the additional benefits.
- Stretch food ingredients and plan to use them in more than one meal. This helps to save money and reduce food waste.
- Consider freezing produce to make fruit and vegetables last longer.
- Look at unit prices to compare similar products at the grocery store.