Down to pre-pandemic levels thanks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) In Colorado in March, Summit County food advocates said they expected the need to increase dramatically if families could lose hundreds of dollars a month in federal food aid. I’m here.
“We’re gearing up. We understand that this can have a big impact on our food bank,” said the Silverthorne-based nonprofit Family & Intercultural Resource Center. Executive Director Brianne Snow said.“The timing of this SNAP cutback is terrible. Food prices have not come down…and our cost of living in this community is still very difficult to manage.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the U.S. Congress has increased the maximum monthly payments to SNAP recipients through several pandemic relief spending bills due to increased hunger across America.However, February will be the last month for Coloradoans to receive increased aid, resulting in a reduction of about $90 in per capita monthly benefits.
For the average family served by the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (a single parent raising three children), this could mean a difference of $360 each month, says Snow.
“It seems impossible to recover from $360,” Snow said, adding that it could put pressure on parents to find other jobs and cut spending elsewhere. . “It’s kind of a win-win situation for some of these families.”
Summit County spokesperson Dave Rossi said in a text message: to be influenced.
“In the face of benefits changes that will dramatically affect Summit families, it is more important than ever to focus on them,” added Rossi.
The imminent change comes as county food providers report an increasingly high level of residents are coming to their doors. 1,817 people visited the food bank this December, up from 841 people in the month.
Margaret Seehe, co-founder of Breckenridge-based nonprofit Smart Belliesher organization, which delivers bagged meals to families on weekends for children in schools in Summit County and Leadville, is also in high demand.
In late October and early November, the group served about 550 children, Sheehe said. They will serve more than 700 people this weekend, she said.
“This is the highest ever and is climbing much faster than the 2020 and 2021 highs,” said Sheehe. “There’s a lot going on in the family: childcare, job search, job retention, transportation costs, etc.”
According to Sheehe, according to an internal survey of Smart Bellies clients compiled this fall, 15% of 149 respondents said they depended on SNAP for part of their diet. About 33% said they depended on free or reduced lunches. This is an income-based program that allows some children in public schools to receive free or heavily discounted school meals.
Sheehe said many families in the county not only did not meet the income requirements of SNAP, they did not earn enough money to become fully financially independent, and some families were stuck in the safety net. I said that I was falling into
“The income level required to qualify for SNAP is quite low compared to the income required to live here,” Sheehe said.
According to the Colorado Department of Human ServicesIndividuals, couples and families can qualify for SNAP if their income is below 200% of the federal poverty level. For individuals, this represents her annual pre-tax income of $27,192 or less. For a family of four, the threshold would be $55,512 in income.
During the pandemic, monthly SNAP allocations were based on family size rather than income, allowing families to reach maximum allocation levels for their size.However, once those terms expire, payments revert to a sliding scale based on the recipient’s income..
As Snow put it, “If you get promoted or promoted, you’re punished accordingly and your benefits go down.”
Community leaders are preparing for what they said could be a major challenge for working families in a volatile economy, while also looking for solutions big and small.
Ms. Snow told residents, “I want you to put yourself in these people’s shoes and imagine what it would be like to not be able to support your family.” will help keep up with the potential influx of demand, she said.
Sheehe said he feared reduced benefits for a statewide free school lunch program approved by Colorado voters in November. Provides an important opportunity for districts to end child hunger.
Summit School District spokesperson Andrea Ryder said the school district plans to participate in the program but is awaiting guidelines from the Colorado Department of Education and the state board of education.
Sheehe said he was excited about universally free meals in schools, but added that some families may have less spending power when it comes to meals due to reduced SNAP benefits. .
“We can’t give them the same choice and autonomy that SNAP can provide,” she said.
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