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‘Back to One Meal a Day’: SNAP Benefits Drop As Food Prices Climb

NPR, Lauren Hodges, March 22, 2023 

“I don’t think people understand how much impact this relief had. I was finally able to feed my child without the stress, without the worry, or the tears.”

Teresa Calderez has never seen her nails look better.

“They were real split, cracked and dried,” she said, fanning out her fingers. “And I noticed having eaten fresh vegetables and meats, you know, they look a lot better. They’re not pretty, but they’re healthier. And I think your nails say a lot about what your health is like.”

Calderez is 63 and lives in Colorado Springs. Disabled and unable to work for years, she used to get a little over $20 a month in food stamps under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. That would run out very quickly. But as one of the millions of Americans who got extra federal assistance during the pandemic, her balance jumped to $280 a month. She said she was finally able to eat whenever she felt hungry.

“You know, I feel better. I have a little more energy,” she said.

Teresa Calderez says the extra SNAP benefits made a noticeable difference to her diet and her health.

But that extra money is gone now as the government winds down its pandemic assistance programs. The boosted benefits expired this month and payments are dropping by about $90 a month on average for individuals, and $250 or more for some families, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute.

Calderez is now back to the minimum monthly payment: just $23 a month.

The reduction comes as food prices in the U.S. continue to rise. Without the extra help, many people will go hungry.

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“I don’t think people understand how much impact this relief had,” said Raynah, who asked we not use her full name for personal safety reasons. “I was finally able to feed my child without the stress, without the worry, or the tears.”

Read More: NPR