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'Significant increase' in SNAP recipients at SA Food Bank

Double benefits due to shutdown now running low

SAN ANTONIO – After receiving both their January and February benefits last month due to the government shutdown, people on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, are now running low on groceries.

As a result, the San Antonio Food Bank reported a “significant increase” in SNAP recipients asking for its help, according to Eric Cooper, president and CEO of the San Antonio Food Bank.

Since Valentine's Day, “We’ve seen an increase in the number of calls and people that we don’t see," Cooper said.

He said the food bank probably won’t see a slowdown until Friday, March 1, when benefits will begin to be loaded onto recipients' Lone Star Cards. A spokeswoman with the Texas Department of Health and Human Services said that will be done from March 1-7, instead of through March 15.

“We’re issuing March benefits a little earlier to help families as they stretch their budgets,” the spokeswoman said.

If your SNAP EDG number ends in:

You will get March benefits on:

0 or 5

March 1

1 or 6 March 3
2 or 7 March 5
3 or 8 March 6
4 or 9 March 7

 

In mid-January, when people received two months of benefits, the state encouraged recipients “to space their food purchases out throughout the month of February, rather than making mass purchases.”

Cooper said many found that was easier said than done.

“SNAP is a supplement, not meant to last the entire month,” Cooper said.

He said families probably asked themselves, “'Do I try to hold onto it?' or 'I’m here at the grocery store. Can I just get those groceries now?'”

With children to feed, “That food goes and is gone," Cooper said, which is why he urges SNAP recipients to go to the food bank.

“We have food. Please come. Our doors are open to help families through their season of struggle, even if it’s just a two-week period," Cooper said.

Prior to the demand by SNAP recipients, Michael Guerra, chief resource officer of the San Antonio Food Bank, said the organization went from not serving any federal employees to helping 2,500 furloughed workers over 35 days due to the nation’s longest government shutdown.


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