SNAP benefits reduced for many New Yorkers

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Many New Yorkers lost extra cash on March 1 to pay for food that helped them through the pandemic.

The federal government is winding down its emergency response to the pandemic. With that comes an end to the added SNAP benefits each month.

The end of emergency assistance means every SNAP household will see a decrease of at least $95 in monthly SNAP benefits, said Hunger Solutions New York.

With emergency assistance, households were paid the maximum amount for their household size.

The Food Pantries for the Capital District described a one-two punch of increased demand due to inflation and now, what pantries anticipate being even more need. Executive Director Natasha Pernicka said pantries saw a 34% increase in people getting assistance there last year – many of whom she said were older adults on a fixed income and struggling due to inflation. There is no sign that number is going down.

“This is a really irresponsible move on the federal government’s part to reduce the SNAP benefits while so many people are still struggling with inflation,” Pernicka said.

“Unfortunately, that’s where charity steps in to fill the gaps, but this is a time when food pantries and other charitable organizations really need the community to step up.”

While extra federal benefits go away, NewsChannel 13 has learned the new South End Grocery has been battling since October to be approved by the federal government to accept SNAP benefits as payment. Most of the people in the underserved community for whom it was opened use SNAP to pay for food.

“Those include people who live in the neighborhood, have supportive health needs, reside in South Mall Towers,” said the grocery store’s sponsor, Travon Jackson. He said the store has still built a robust base of customers using any cash they have to support the store.

Jackson said he has had the store’s application for SNAP withdrawn twice. He said he was thankful for help from the offices of Rep. Paul Tonko (D – Amsterdam) and Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D – Albany), but that red tape still blocked the approval.

“But it has been arduous, it has not been straight-forward and it has not been conducted in consideration of the people starving here in the South End neighborhood, that level of urgency,” Jackson said.

The business, he said, would not be sustainable without accepting SNAP, as the store is committed to meeting peoples’ needs and employing local workers for a livable wage (starting at $15 an hour and $16.25 in the kitchen with quarterly raises, he said).