NewsLocal News

Actions

Colorado food banks brace for increased need after emergency additional SNAP benefits expire

foodbank.jpg
Posted at 8:50 PM, Feb 03, 2023

DENVER — Thursdays are always very busy at the Bienvenidos Food Bankin Denver. That's when they hold their food distribution events.

"Clients can come in here every week that we're open, and they can get free groceries," explained Greg Pratt, executive director of Bienvenidos Food Bank. "We like to provide the kind of things that are really helpful to people, you know, the staples like eggs, meat and produce."

The high price of groceries has already put a strain on this important community resource. Bienvenidos has also been seeing a noticeable decrease in the number of donations they receive.

"About a year ago, I could buy a case of eggs for maybe $25. Now it's in the $70 range for that same amount of eggs," Pratt said.

As more people struggle to afford the rising costs, many are turning to food banks for help.

"We actually saw a 40% increase from our normal weekly expectations," Pratt said.

Larger food distribution organizations are seeing the same issues.

"Food Bank of the Rockies is actually spending triple the amount we were, just for food, compared to pre-COVID," said Aditi Desai, chief marketing officer for Food Bank of the Rockies. "Increased demand at some of our mobile pantry sites, where we distribute food in neighborhoods, we're seeing double the number right now."

These challenges could get to a boiling point at the end of the month.

At the end of February, emergency additional SNAP benefits, put in place during the pandemic, are ending.

More than 290,000 Colorado families will soon have an average of $90 less per person per month.

"People are definitely showing up and saying, 'Yeah, we're really worried about how we're going to make it through the month when we normally would be able to rely on those SNAP benefits,'" said Pratt.

Food banks are one of the few resources available for people who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to put food on their tables.

"We are preparing for increased need, even on top of the need we're already seeing in the community due to inflation," said Desai.

"In the next year or two, I think the economic situation is so tough that families are going to need all the help they can. I'm actually really worried about other food pantries," said Pratt. "There's a lot that are run by small churches or small organizations, and if they don't have the budget, I think we may see closings."

These resources rely heavily on donations and are hoping the community can help. Both accept food donations or cash donations through their websites, where you can also find information on how to pick up free groceries if you need them: Bienvenidosfoodbank.org and Foodbankrockies.org

"One dollar can help us distribute enough food for three meals," said Desai.

Both organizations are advocating for the federal government to consider increasing the SNAP allotments permanently.

Food Bank of the Rockies is teaming up with local Feeding America food banks, Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger and Hunger Free Colorado to seek emergency food support for banks and pantries across the state.

There are additional resources: the USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program which connects low-income families with U.S. grown food, the Double Up Food Bucks program that gives you dollar-for-dollar benefits back when you use your EBT card to by fresh, healthy foods, and you can alsoclick here for a list of all food banks and pantries in our state.

The state also offers the following for those that may be impacted by this change:

  • Roll over unused SNAP benefits to the next month. Unused benefits can remain on EBT cards for up to nine months. This may help cushion the impact of the reduction in benefits. 
  • Stock up on non-perishable items now, while you have the additional benefits. (View tips on stocking your pantry in English or Spanish.)
  • Stretch food ingredients and plan to use them in more than one meal. This helps to save money and reduce food waste. (View tips on stretching ingredients in English or Spanish.)
  • Consider freezing produce to make fruit and vegetables last longer. (View tips on freezing food in English or Spanish.)
  • Look at unit prices to compare similar products at the grocery store. (View tips on comparing prices in English or Spanish.)


D7 follow up bar 2460x400.jpg
The Follow Up
What do you want Denver7 to follow up on? Is there a story, topic or issue you want us to revisit? Let us know with the contact form below.