SNAP benefits returning to pre COVID amounts
Many Iowans rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to make sure they have enough food every month. For the last two years, SNAP households have received additional benefits, but that is about to change as COVID numbers continue to decline.
When a state public health emergency was declared in April of 2020, additional money was allotted to SNAP recipients. Because the emergency has ended, the additional benefits have also returned to pre-pandemic levels this month.
For Amanda Warnell, a single mom who lives in Marshalltown, this change is going to mean a lot more stress when grocery shopping. Warnell has eight children, and while three of them have moved out, five are still currently living with her. Their ages range from seven to 17 years old.
“It’s hard when you have that many kids and just trying to make it, especially when they’re teenagers and they eat a lot,” Warnell said. “Right now I’m a single mom. There’s one income in the house, so it’s going to affect me hugely losing half those benefits.”
Public Information Officer Alex Carfrae with the Department of Human Services (DHS) said that the extra benefits that started in April 2020 meant a minimum of $95 extra dollars per month for SNAP households, but some received significantly more depending on their situation.
Warnell’s family received $1,500 a month with the additional benefits, but now that they are reverting to the original amount, she will only be receiving $800 a month, nearly halving her food budget.
“(The last two years) it’s been a really good feeling because when you get that extra amount, it just lasts longer. With my normal, what I go through in a month, without the extra, I’m probably out of my food stamps within two weeks,” she said.
The lost benefits also make getting foods that her children like difficult because often, they don’t last as long.
“I try to get the meals that they like and make it last, but you know, when they get home from school, they want the junk food and the snacks as well. So it’s just really hard,” Warnell said.
Even though Warnell already works nights at the Willows of Marshalltown, an assisted living facility, full time at 40 hours a week, with the reduced monthly SNAP benefits, she faces either picking up extra shifts in her current position or finding a part time job to supplement those losses.
“I need to go towards more food for the kids,” Warnell said.
Warnell thinks extending the additional SNAP benefits would be extremely helpful to not only her, but many people who are struggling to get by on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s hard for a lot of people to work. It’s not just because some people don’t want to work, but, with the pandemic and people’s immune systems, some people just can’t work and there are still a lot of places that are closed down and only working from home, so I think if they would extend that, it would really help a lot of people,” Warnell said.
According to the DHS numbers provided by Carfrae, Marshall County has 1,836 SNAP households with a total of 4,006 recipients. The average monthly benefits including additional dollars is $501, but that number will drop since the extra benefits have ended.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org