GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For nearly three years, families have been receiving an additional $95 per month as part of expanded food benefit program during the pandemic. But that ends this month.
Extra payments through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that were added during the pandemic are going away, leaving nearly 30 million Americans with less money from the government to help with grocery bills.
Ken Estelle, president and CEO of Feeding America West Michigan said that the main concern with SNAP benefits ending is that there’s going to be an influx in need.
“People have been relying on this for the past three years,” he said. “Unfortunately, we think there are going to be some folks that are surprised by this.”
Estelle and others are trying to get the word out, as well as preparing Feeding America’s food pantries by purchasing more food. He even if people are aware of the reduction of SNAP benefits, inflation is having a large impact on grocery shopping.
“Even going back to what it was before, food costs more. So even what they used to get may not go as far as it used to,” Estelle said. “And over the last year, 2022, the inflation impact has really hit us. And so we’ve seen a continual month-on-month increase of the number of people coming for help, I think mainly driven by the inflation element.”
Estelle said the best ways to help are to support your local food pantries are by volunteering your time or donating money so they can afford to buy more food for people in need.
“Recently, we’ve done an analysis and we’re actually able to take $1 and make 12 meals out of $1 now. So, we’ve really been looking at how can we stretch our dollars to feed as many people as possible? We know we’re actually helping more people today than we were a year ago,” said Estelle.
For more information and to sign up to volunteer, visit the Feeding America West Michigan website.