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Over 30 Million in US Face ‘Hunger Cliff’ as Food Benefit Cuts Loom

(COMMON DREAMS) KENNY STANCIL February 10, 2023

As one advocate put it, “People had this budget, things haven’t gotten better, and now you’re going to a grocery store where things are more expensive.”

Hunger is expected to soar across the United States next month when more than 30 million people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program see their food benefits slashed significantly.

“This hunger cliff is coming to the vast majority of states, and people will on average lose about $82 of SNAP benefits a month,” Ellen Vollinger, director for SNAP at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), toldCBS News on Friday. “That is a stunning number.”

As the outlet reported: “That means a family of four could see their monthly benefit cut by about $328 a month. The worst-hit could be elderly Americans who receive the minimum monthly benefit, Vollinger said. They could see their SNAP payments tumble from $281 to as little as $23 per month.”

Since a federal public health emergency was first declared at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, so-called emergency allotments have boosted food benefits nationwide.

Republican lawmakers in 18 states chose to eliminate their emergency allotments early. Many tried to justify the move by pointing to the recovery from the coronavirus-driven economic crisis, but research shows that demand at food banks has surged in states that spurned extra federal aid.

The remaining 32 states that have continued to provide enhanced food benefits will be forced to eliminate their emergency allotments in March because funding was cut in the 2023 omnibus spending package enacted in December.

States facing imminent reductions in food benefits include California and Texas, which have the most SNAP beneficiaries with 5.1 million and 3.6 million recipients, respectively. Meanwhile, New Mexico is home to the highest number of SNAP beneficiaries per capita, with more than 3 in 10 households currently receiving augmented food benefits.

As Insiderreported Friday, state officials are now “scrambling to get the word out to residents that their benefits are being dramatically reduced.”

Gina Plata-Nino, deputy director for SNAP at FRAC, told the outlet that “the last thing you want is grandma Sue showing up to the grocery store all of a sudden like, ‘Where’s my money? This is what I had budgeted.”

Read More: Common Dreams