SAN ANTONIO – Thousands of local families are bracing for the end of extra food stamp benefits now that the federal government is ending a pandemic-era policy that gave millions of families on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, more money every month.
“This cut is definitely going to hurt many of our families who have been able to use those benefits,” said Melanie McGuire, San Antonio Food Bank’s chief programs officer.
McGuire said the food bank expects families to have a harder time putting food on the table with this drop in benefits.
“We’re going to see more folks coming into the food lines. We’ve seen that already when inflation’s begun, and folks aren’t able to meet the demands of those expenses,” said McGuire.
According to Feeding Texas, 127,658 households in Bexar County currently receive SNAP benefits. All SNAP households will experience a minimum reduction of $95 in their monthly benefit amount, with some families experiencing a much higher reduction.
This change amounts to a loss of around $27.5 million in extra food benefits every month in Bexar County alone. To prepare, the food bank educates families on more government programs for which they can apply. They are also setting up more food donation stations across the area.
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“We really are encouraging folks to be prepared, think about their household budget, making sure they have the resources needed to be able to feed their families,” said McGuire. “We’re here to help that, but also just the education of folks -- their situations may have changed since COVID, and it’s important to report those changes. So if there have been changes to your household, all of those things are important and may impact your benefit.”
Rachel Cooper with the state advocacy group Every Texan said this significantly affects people on fixed incomes, such as retirees, families with disabled relatives, children and minorities.
“We project the average household in Texas will lose around $211. Some folks, it will be more. Some folks, it will be less,” said Cooper. “Seniors will probably be hurt more as their Social Security usually means that they get smaller SNAP benefits. Some seniors we can expect to see going from $280 a month down to $25 a month. It will definitely hurt a lot of families.”
Families using these extra payments are advised to update their status with SNAP to see if they qualify for more benefits.
“Especially if you have moved or your rent has gone up, your expenses have gone up -- because those might affect how much money you qualify for,” said Cooper.
“The timing of that is just really difficult for folks who are making really tough decisions right now of paying for groceries and buying medicine or being able to sustain their rents. It’s putting a hardship on many of our families,” said McGuire.