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Final emergency additional SNAP allotments sent out; monthly amount to decrease significantly

Posted at 9:35 PM, Mar 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-02 00:37:58-05

DENVER — More than 290,000 families across the state will soon have less money to spend on groceries.

A COVID-19 relief measure gave Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants the maximum amount of benefits possible. Those additional benefits expired at the end of February and will now return to regular levels.

"It would go back to looking at their deductions, their rent, their other expenses," explained Karla Maraccini, director for food and energy assistance programs at the Colorado Department of Human Services. "What we're probably going to see is a reduction of at least $95 per household, but more likely, around $90 per person per household."

The federal additional SNAP benefits were not permanent, but with the impacts of rising inflation, some families don't know how they're going to make ends meet.

"It is going to be a very anxious and difficult time for a lot of people. Many households are going to have to start making really tough decisions between putting food on their table and paying their rent or paying for their heat," said Maraccini.

Denver7 reached out to state senators and representatives from both parties — including Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper and Representatives Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck, Yadira Caraveo, Jason Crow, Diana Degette, Doug Lamborn, Joe Neguse and Brittany Pettersen — to see if they had any plans to introduce legislation that might offer new relief for local families after the additional benefits expire.

As of March 1, the only responses received were from the offices of Bennet (D) and Caraveo (D).

Senator Bennet's office released the following statement:

"Senator Bennet understands that many Coloradans rely on SNAP benefits to feed their families, especially as rising prices strain household budgets. He has heard from Coloradan nutrition groups helping ensure that families have access to healthy food and that affected families are aware of upcoming changes in their benefits, and as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, he will work to support vital SNAP funding in this year’s Farm bill. Senator Bennet is also continuing to push to expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credits, policies that have been shown to reduce food insecurity and lift working families out of poverty."

Representative Caraveo said, "The SNAP program is a crucial protection that ensures hardworking Colorado families can access the food they need. As a pediatrician, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of high-quality, nutritious foods for kids and families in our community and many kids I saw in clinic relied on SNAP benefits. I’m deeply concerned by the loss of this support for Colorado families. I plan to use my position on the Nutrition Subcommittee on the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees programs like SNAP, to help deliver relief for families in need when we pass the Farm Bill this year."

Meanwhile, at the Colorado State Capitol, a bill that will give local food banks a huge boost is on its way to the governor's desk.

"An extra $14 million into hunger relief organizations to help cushion this," said Maraccini, "That $14 million will be directed into food banks and food pantries all across the state. As we know, the demand for their services are going to increase a great deal."

Denver7 checked in with Food Bank of the Rockies about their plans moving forward.

"Food Bank of the Rockies is preparing to purchase almost 20% more food than we currently are, just to make sure that our mobile pantries and other programs have sufficient food to meet the need, and that our network of 800+ hunger relief partners have sufficient food to distribute in the communities that we're serving," said Aditi Desai, chief marketing officer for Food Bank of the Rockies.

The organization says they're concerned things will get particularly tough during the summer without the additional benefits.

"When kids are out of school, they might not have access as readily to lunches and meals provided at school or as part of after school programs," said Desai.

Many are hoping federal lawmakers take another look at how the benefits are allotted.

"Maybe this is an opportunity for us to have a discussion through federal advocacy for maybe making the maximum allotment the norm, instead of tying it only to a public health crisis," said Maraccini.

For any questions about your SNAP allotment or the timing and status of your case, a new hotline has been launched where you can get real time updates. Call 800-816-4451.

State officials also launched a new website to help residents plan for the end of the additional benefits.

If you are in need of food assistance, there are additional resources:

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.)

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