The upsurge of coronavirus cases is slowing down, and restrictions are getting eased; more people are getting vaccinated, which ultimately resulting in workers is returning to offices. Due to such a situation, some state governments are ending emergency declarations for the populace.
Till date, 26 states have announced that they will abandon enhanced federal unemployment programs before the September expiration date, cutting the additional $300 weekly aid received by the concerned group of people that lost their jobs in the pandemic. Now, several states are beginning to end such food aid programs as well.
Also commonly known as the SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is the biggest federal food assistance program throughout the entire United States which aims towards assisting low-income Americans. The amount of family receives is based on a number of factors, such as household size and income.
As the pandemic spread and the lines at food banks grew, states were able to increase those benefits to the maximum levels allowed per household. But this required both a federal public emergency declaration and a state emergency declaration, something the states have decided to end.
Congress approved a 15% increase in SNAP benefits at the end of last year, which has been extended and will continue until September 2021. But as most of the states are planning to end their pandemic-related emergency, all benefits for families in distress is most likely to end as well.
In March, more than 42 million people benefited from the SNAP program, according to the latest data available from the USDA, which hints at an increase of more than 5 million from March of last year. At the same time, more than 20.2 million adults reported that there was sometimes or often not enough food in their homes in the past seven days, according to the results of the US Census Impulse Survey for mid-June.
May and June saw the highest food shortage since the American Rescue Plan was passed, providing a new round of stimulus payments to families. Idaho was the first state not to extend SNAP benefits this spring. North Dakota didn’t extend the increased benefits until June. Starting from Thursday, Arkansas has also returned to reduce pre-pandemic food assistance program levels. Approximately 157,000 households will no longer receive food aid. The Department of Agriculture has urged states to consider a gradual transition to pre-pandemic benefits, insisting that food benefits should not be cut off immediately.
An estimated 295,000 South Carolina households currently receiving SNAP benefits will decline beginning in August after the state of emergency ended, even though it requested that benefits be extended for one more month as a transition period. In the same month, Missouri will stop receiving SNAP benefits. Some proponents of the program claim that the child tax credit payments that families will begin receiving as of July 15 could help ease some of the burdens faced, especially by low- and middle-income families.