Food Banks Under Continued Strain Following End of Pandemic-Era SNAP Benefits
For the month of March, nearly two-thirds of responding food banks reported an increase in demand for food assistance, according to Feeding America’s latest food bank pulse survey, a marked jump from the previous survey. In the latest survey, fielded between April 17 and May 1, around 95% of responding food banks reported seeing demand for food assistance increase or stay the same in March compared to February, with around 65% reporting an increase in the number of people seeking charitable food assistance. This is the first food bank survey gauging demand since the nationwide end of a critical pandemic-era food benefit.
By the end of February, around 20 more states stopped providing increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit amounts, known as emergency allotments. This additional assistance began in the early days of the pandemic to provide much-needed hunger relief. While the wind-down of the emergency allotments was always expected, the timing came as tens of millions of families are still feeling the stress of elevated food prices. Food banks anticipated an increase in demand given the sudden loss of billions in purchasing power for families. The latest food bank survey reflects this.
“The pandemic showed us what we can do as a nation when we rally together for a common goal. Public and private partnerships helped keep many individuals and families out of food insecurity,” said Vince Hall, chief government relations officer at Feeding America. “As that support lapses, we are seeing effects across the country with increased demand at food banks. The 2023 Farm Bill is our opportunity to support communities across the country at this critical time with strong nutrition programs.”
While the federal public health emergency around the COVID-19 pandemic will soon end, the effects of the pandemic will likely be felt for years to come—a critical consideration as Congress deliberates on the 2023 Farm Bill. This legislation will set national agriculture and nutrition policy for the next five years. Feeding America urges members of Congress to help ensure people have access to the food they need by strengthening federal nutrition programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and SNAP, in the 2023 Farm Bill.
For more information about Feeding America and how to join the organization’s efforts at the national or local level, visit feedingamerica.org.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.3 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.