Food Stamps Are Being Cut Even Though Grocery Prices Are Soaring

People all around the country, and the globe for that matter, are feeling the impact of soaring inflation. It's hit nearly every aspect of daily life but has been seen most acutely in all-time high grocery prices. Due to an ailing post-Covid pandemic supply chain, sanctions against Russia, and climate change, the economy has faced a perfect storm that has impacted nearly everyone. But it is most severely harming low-income households, says The Washington Post. And it's about to become much worse for America's poorest households, as the federal government has announced it is significantly cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in March 2023. 

In 2020, SNAP benefits were increased by 15% to help low-income earners afford groceries during the pandemic, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The program extended to all 50 states, as well as Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That program ended in September 2021, but additional benefits were extended in the form of emergency allotments. More than 15 states have already ended their participation in the emergency allotment benefits, but after February 2023, the program will end entirely.

How the policy will impact SNAP recipients

In 2023, the expected average monthly benefit for a family of four is approximately $718. That averages out to a meager $5.70-$5.90 per person, per day, but is significantly more than the average benefits pre-2020. The Urban Institute found that states that participated in the emergency allotments helped to reduce poverty by 9.6%. But SNAP recipients may be even worse off than before, as inflation has caused astronomical grocery cost hikes. According to the USDA, food-at-home costs increased by 11.4% in 2022, meaning that SNAP benefits will not go as far, leading to food insecurity and a potential increase in hunger and poverty. 

Additionally, households that receive both SNAP and Social Security may see an even greater cut to their SNAP benefits. The Social Security program received a much-needed cost of living boost but will have its budget slashed in SNAP. "When they cut this extra benefit from SNAP, that's going to put me in a serious problem," said Charles Jones, a 63-year-old military veteran in conversation with NBC News. Jones received $281 per month from the expanded benefits. As of March 2023, his payments will diminish to just $23 — the minimum monthly payment in 48 states (via USDA).