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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado families will lose hundreds of dollars in SNAP benefits starting in March, when the federal government ends a pandemic-era boost to the monthly food allowance.

Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are expected to lose an average of $90 per person per month, or around $360 for a family of four, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services.

“This reduction in benefits may have a significant impact on many households and Colorado’s economy,” the CDHS said in a news release.

SNAP ’emergency allotments’ ended in spending bill

The increased SNAP benefits are known as “emergency allotments.” Congress authorized them in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S.

That move boosted the SNAP benefit to its maximum amount based on household size, rather than a benefit calculated by income and expenses. But Congress ended the benefit in the government spending bill signed into law on Dec. 30.

Seventeen states, including Wyoming, had already seen their increased SNAP benefits end, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SNAP benefits have already lowered for households that also receive Social Security benefits, the USDA said. That’s because of the Social Security cost-of-living increase that took effect on Jan. 1 — the largest increase in 40 years.

“However, the households will still experience a net gain, as the decrease in SNAP benefits is less than the increase in Social Security benefits,” the USDA said.

More than 540,000 people receive SNAP benefits in Colorado, or around 290,000 households, according to the state.

Now, they are urged to take measures like stocking up on non-perishable food and freezing produce before the benefit is lowered. And those who do not receive SNAP benefits are encouraged to donate to local food banks — which have already reported growing demand amid inflation.