During the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused millions of people to either lose or be suspended from their jobs, Congress enacted an Emergency Allotment increase in federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These additional food stamp benefits helped millions of people to get food and sustain themselves during the national medical crisis, and I am one of those people.
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to be subsiding, Congress voted in December to end the boost in food stamp benefits as of March 1. About 30 million people will now lose the additional SNAP funding.
According to a Feb. 6 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, monthly food stamp allocations to households in 32 states and Washington, D.C., will be reduced by $95 up to $250 or more starting in the month of March. (tinyurl.com/mrxfypth) Individuals can expect to have food stamp benefits decreased by $90 per month, on average. These are serious hits in a country where inflation is so bad that prices of food items have increased up to and sometimes beyond 10% of their pre-pandemic costs.
Social Security recipients received an 8.7% increase in their monthly checks on Jan. 1, as a way of offsetting inflation in many areas. However, those now receiving SNAP benefits may have them cut or even eliminated because of their increase in income!
Food stamp benefits a lifeline
Food stamp benefits have been an important lifeline for people who live under the poverty line, which includes women, children, seniors and people with disabilities. This writer, who lives with a severe disability, subsists entirely on food which is purchased using SNAP benefits; however, the $95 Emergency Allotment was cut as of March 1.
Food banks and soup kitchens are now faced with a greater demand for food that has even surpassed the initial need created by the pandemic. People are lining up for a mile or longer to obtain food. The food aid groups are running out of products to provide to people who need them. And if workers are struggling to pay for their own food, they will not have funds or food to donate to the hungry.
In the face of struggling food banks, cuts in food stamp benefits and high food prices, other governmental services, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides food boxes to seniors, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children are being heavily recommended by nonprofit organizations which aim to get food to people in need.
A “hunger cliff” is predicted for millions of people in the United States, as food prices soar, and governmental aid is cut. This crisis will especially hit Black and Latinx families, low-wage workers, seniors and people with disabilities — those who are most oppressed.
This crisis, worsened but not caused by COVID-19, is exacerbated by U.S. military intervention abroad. The Biden administration, with Republican backing, has been allocating hundreds of billions of dollars for the Pentagon and military aid to Ukraine. Meanwhile, as usual, Democrats fail to face down Republicans in Congress who aim to cut crucial funds needed for programs to help low-income people in the U.S. obtain food and other necessities.
With more and more of the U.S. population having to choose between paying for rent, food, electricity, medical care or other necessities, Washington’s military and financial support for a pseudo-fascist dictatorship in Ukraine is an insult to every struggling person in the United States.