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Guidance for SNAP Recipients as Pandemic Boost Ends

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, roughly 700,000 Wisconsinites rely on SNAP benefits to put food on the table.
Jonathan Weiss
/
Adobe Stock
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, roughly 700,000 Wisconsinites rely on SNAP benefits to put food on the table.

Wisconsin residents receiving federal food assistance have now seen their final round of emergency aid prompted by the pandemic. Hunger-fighting groups have tips on how to ease the transition.

Additional SNAP benefits offered a bridge to low-income families as they navigated the economic impact of the crisis. Wisconsin was one of 32 states still tapping into extra aid, but the federal government has now ended the temporary support.

Matt King, associate director of Wisconsin's Hunger Task Force group, said going back to pre-pandemic levels will result in dramatic swings in monthly support. He provided this example for older populations.

"Seniors will see a drop from $281 down to $23," said King. "So, that's a really significant decrease in money that they have available to buy groceries."

Wisconsin administers SNAP aid through its Food-Share program. King encouraged recipients to review their eligibility factors to make sure they're receiving the maximum level of aid.

And he said you have up to a year to spend the benefits you receive. That means that stretching those dollars, especially any leftover funds from the pandemic boost, can help in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, returning to normal benefit amounts comes as households continue to grapple with higher grocery costs.

Ailen Arreaza, co-director of the national advocacy group Parents-Together, said its 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," said Arreaza. "And the biggest challenges are paying for things like diapers, formula, paying for utilities, paying for housing."

Meanwhile, Arreaza said families in need should be more outspoken about what's happening.

"These types of benefits," said Arreaza, "that help families, that help kids thrive, that put food on the table for hungry kids - this is something that families deserve."

The group says it's 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 say it's about incentivizing able-bodied people to return to work. But Democrats are expected to fight these proposals, suggesting they'd only make it harder for some people to get back on their feet.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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