This month, Minnesotans receiving federal food assistance will see their final round of emergency aid prompted by the pandemic.
Additional SNAP benefits offered a bridge to low-income families as they navigated the economic impact of the crisis. Minnesota was one of 32 states still distributing the extra aid, but the federal government has now ended the temporary support, with most final payments going out in March.
Returning to normal benefit amounts in April comes as households continue to grapple with higher grocery costs.
Ailen Arreaza, co-director of the national advocacy group ParentsTogether, said their recent survey shows many families are juggling a lot of expenses.
“Sixty-four percent of families are saying that they are having trouble making ends meet right now,” Arreaza reported. “The biggest challenges are paying for things like diapers, formula, paying for utilities, paying for housing.”
With emergency benefits expiring, recipients on average will have $90 less in monthly food aid. Hunger Solutions Minnesota urges these households to learn what their monthly amount will be going forward. They can check online or contact their county office in charge of processing applications. Recipients also are encouraged to see if changes in their economic status would boost their aid level.
And in Minnesota, the Market Bucks program can allow recipients to triple SNAP dollars at participating farmers markets.
Meanwhile, Arreaza urged families in need to be more outspoken about what is happening.
“These types of benefits—that help families, that help kids thrive, that put food on the table for hungry kids—this is something that families deserve,” Arreaza asserted.
The group noted it is especially worried with congressional Republicans floating new work requirements or general cuts to SNAP aid, as part of negotiations about the debt limit.
GOP lawmakers behind the idea said it is about incentivizing able-bodied people to return to work. But Democratic leaders are expected to fight the proposals, suggesting they would only make it harder for some people to get back on their feet.
Mike Moen welcomes writes for Minnesota News Connection.