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Extra SNAP benefits are ending in NC. Food pantries are stocking up


People receiving food stamp — or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — benefits in North Carolina will see a significant drop in their monthly allotment beginning in March.

No longer will households receive a second payment on their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card toward the end of the month, as they have been since March 2020, when the federal government approved the emergency allotments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Households received either an extra $95 each month or the maximum amount allowed for their household size, whichever was greater.

Now those extra payments will cease for people in North Carolina and 31 other states that didn't end the extra payments early. South Carolina, for example, ended extra SNAP payments on Jan. 31.

In making the announcement, the Food and Nutrition Service said the emergency allotments "were a temporary strategy" authorized by Congress to help low-income households deal with the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. The extra allotments are ending due to action by Congress.

About 1.6 million North Carolinians received SNAP benefits in 2022, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 69% are in families with children.

"I'm worried that a lot of families will be blindsided by this change, said Emily Johnston, a fellow with the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.

"This is going to significantly change the way that families receiving benefits access food and change the way that families have to budget and prioritize," she said.

Food pantries brace for higher demand

Many food pantries have begun to stock up in anticipation of higher demand in March as the extra benefits expire.

Tina Postel, CEO of Loaves & Fishes/Friendship Trays of Mecklenburg County, said her organization felt well-positioned after local Boy Scouts donated more than 200,000 pounds from their recent "Scouting for Food" drive.

"I'm not in panic mode right now thanks to those Boy Scouts, but I will tell you, we are definitely trying to make sure our warehouse is well stocked with food to meet that demand," she said.

Postel also said the level of need was already at a near-record high. She said Loaves & Fishes and Friendship Trays had served 9,700 people in January, compared to 4,000 or 5,000 people who might be served in a typical month.

Loaves & Fishes and Friendship Trays had also spent about 74% of its food budget in the first four months of its fiscal year to help meet the need, Postel said.

"We are nervous about the number of food purchases that we've had to make, so donations of food and financial donations will be critical to getting us through this peak," she said.

If you're a SNAP recipient, what should you do?

The Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy says it's a good idea for people receiving SNAP benefits to review their benefit amounts and transaction history on the EBT Edge website.

Households can potentially increase their monthly amounts by reporting changes in their income, housing costs, dependent care, child support payments or medical expenses.

Feeding the Carolinas also has a webpage where people can search for local food banks and food pantries in North and South Carolina.

Loaves & Fishes can provide a week's worth of groceries with a referral to people in Mecklenburg County.


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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal