LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Hundreds of thousands of Nevada families will be out a lot of money in emergency assistance for buying groceries.
Extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits that were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end in a few months.
Beginning in April, your first monthly SNAP payment will be the only payment for benefits.
Since March 2020, qualifying families on SNAP were getting two payments per month. A senior who received $23 per month through SNAP was also receiving a payment of $258 in the middle of the month, and an adult with two children who would normally get $80 at the beginning of the month was also receiving $660.
Now, those higher second payments will be coming to an end, leaving many families wondering how they will afford groceries.
With seven children in her household, Jennifer Harper said a grocery store run comes with a lot of planning.
“It’s hard living check to check,” Harper said. “My deep freezers are empty and I’m not prepared.”
Harper has 10 people in her household. She would get $200 in monthly SNAP benefits plus an extra $180 from emergency pandemic payments.
“We were able to stock up on our pantry, we got a lot of canned goods, rice, beans, we stocked up on those non-perishable items,” Harper said.
After Mar. 14, she will lose that extra $180.
“I’ve been used to this extra benefit, I’ve been structuring my finances around it,” she said. “When they cut up these extra stamps, it’s like, then we can’t even afford meat at all, so my kids are going to be eating top ramen every day all day.”
Harper is just one of more than 400,000 Nevada families that will lose the extra payment. As a result, food banks are working to be prepared for an uptick in need.
“We are trying to have all the food that we need so our community doesn’t go hungry,” Benefit Services Outreach Manager Nolga Valdez said.
Harper expressed frustration that she will have to turn to the pantries because she won’t be able to afford to feed her family.
“I am a working professional and I have to go to food pantries to survive,” she said.
The extra payments started in 2020, but 3 years later, prices for groceries are no longer what they used to be thanks to skyrocketing inflation mostly seen in the last year.
“One dozen of eggs is just enough for one breakfast, that’s one breakfast, one day, and that’s like $7,” Harper said.
She added that she will stock up as much as she can until the extra benefits end.
The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services said they issued over $1 billion in emergency benefits for families. In preparation for the slashing of benefits, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Services has also increased budgets for food banks around the country to help address food insecurity.
For more information about Nevada’s SNAP program and eligibility, visit this link.