SNAP recipients seeing reduced benefits as COVID increases end

Families getting SNAP benefits will have fewer funds to work with starting this month as temporary pandemic-based increases are ending.

The West Alabama Food Bank is one of many nonprofits in West Alabama bracing for increased demand created by the sudden benefits decrease.  

“We know that this reduction will hit some people hard,” said WAFB Executive Director Jean Rykaczewski. “We are especially worried about our fixed income seniors because about 38% of Alabama residents who are losing SNAP funding are seniors.”

Maggie Conner is among the residents in Tuscaloosa County who are impacted by the funding reduction. 

“I take care of my grandkids,” Connor said. “It hurt us real bad. It was a big cut.”

On average, families will be getting about $180 less per month while a single recipient is getting about $80 less.

Connor said that’s not just hurting her family. It’s hurting the community as a whole.

“It’s going to affect me getting on the streets,” Connor said. “I do get on the streets and feed, but it is going to affect us a lot. Many families are going to be hurting from this.”

Anyone struggling to make their ends meet does have options, Rykaczewski said, especially when it comes to stretching a food budget.

“If you can prepare a week’s worth of meals and shop based on that and have a list ready, it will make your dollars go farther instead of going to the grocery store and looking around,”she said. 

Other ways to save include:

  • buying in bulk
  • freezing or canning fruits and vegetables
  • reduce spending on prepared meals
  • plan meals based on what’s on sale

And if you have a little extra time, the No. 1 thing you can do to make your dollars go further is gardening. Seeds and soil are cheap and pay major dividends if you do it right.

You don’t need a yard or even a balcony; many vegetables can grow just fine in a pot next to a window.

“Now is just getting time where we can start planting a garden outside. You can plant it in containers, you can plant it in buckets. I personally have a lettuce garden growing now and the salad that I have had the last three nights has been from my garden.” said Rykaczewski. 

And if you have a little extra money and are interested in giving back to those in need, taking advantage of good deals is imperative.

“If you are at a grocery store and it’s buy one get one free and you know you are not going to use the other one, bring it to us,” she said. “We would love to have it.” 

If you’re having problems putting food on the table or paying bills, help is available. The United Way of West Alabama’s 211 service can get you connected with services.

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