Emergency SNAP benefits are due to expire in April

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) — Rising food and gasoline prices, along with the end of emergency pandemic support, are straining wallets.

Emergency SNAP benefits are an additional amount added to what people usually get on their EBT cards. This emergency part is scheduled to end on April 15, at the same time as the public health emergency in Virginia.

“This will put more pressure on our network of agency partners and our distribution network in general,” said Zach Nissen, director of programs for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

This pressure is illustrated by the number of meals SNAP can provide.

“For every meal we can provide to a household, SNAP provides nine meals,” Nissen said.

The amount a person receives depends on their income level and the number of people in their family.

“The SNAP program has a rigorous application process, a verification process, its own eligibility criteria. Income and citizenship status are usually kind of the biggest hurdles for people to overcome,” Nissen said.

“At the very beginning, we saw everyone, people who had never been to a pantry before, and then a lot of the benefits of the pandemic kicked in, and people who qualified there n ‘had more to come here, which is fantastic for them,’ said Jane Colony Mills, executive director of Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.

With the possibility of these pandemic benefits coming to an end, food banks expect more people to line up.

“We have seen a great need in our community,” said Miette Michie, chair of the Emergency Food Network’s board of directors.

The Emergency Food Network is one of the organizations rising up to meet this need.

“We expect our orders to increase and to that end we will now be open on Wednesdays as well as our Mondays and Fridays which were open,” Michie said.

The extra money isn’t guaranteed to dry up, the feds could let Virginia extend the relief.

“Virginia SNAP benefits are already not generous compared to other states, and in many ways talking about money has taken us to where many other states already are,” said 57th District Delegate Sally Hudson.

Many organizations are trying to figure out what to do as pandemic support dries up.

“It goes through the USDA and so there are all kinds of different agencies trying to figure out what to do when various pandemic relief provisions expire,” Del said. Hudson.

If you need help, information about the Blue Ridge, Loaves and Fishes Area Food Bank and Emergency Food Network is linked.

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James V. Hayes