Lowcountry organizations brace for scaling back of SNAP benefits
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In one week, families across the state will go back to receiving pre-pandemic level SNAP benefits, and Lowcountry organizations are bracing for what this could mean for the families they serve.
Since March 2020, a 2-person SNAP household was able to receive an additional $266 in emergency allotments from the federal government, which brought them up to the maximum benefit of $516. Now starting Feb. 1, the SNAP household would go back to receiving $250 a month because the federal program is ending.
The South Carolina Department of Social Services says they put out the notice in advance that the program would be ending so that families could plan ahead. They say the emergency allotments were not meant to be permanent, according to the federal government. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, signed by President Biden, ended the pandemic emergency allotments nationwide.
More than 626,000 South Carolinians are currently receiving SNAP as of November, according to the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
On Wednesday, cars were lined up hours before the Community Resource Center’s food giveaway in North Charleston. Executive Director Louis Smith said they were expecting to serve 1,500 people at the giveaway. Although the pandemic has improved, Smith said inflation and low wages are still hurting the people they serve.
“We expected our lines to be a lot shorter but it’s not,” Smith said. “They have grown.”
In Mount Pleasant, staff at East Cooper Community Outreach, which helps people in a financially challenging situation with essential services like healthcare, food, and clothing, said they were preparing for an influx of people needing their help when the extra benefits end.
“I hear the stories every day of people concerned about how happy they were to get the extra benefits and now to have all that taken away is very disheartening,” Client Navigator Denise Bryant said.
The impacts of inflation are weighing heavily on Lowcountry families, according to ECCO staff, who say that they need the community’s help to keep their shelves stocked in their wellness pantry.
“I think right now it’s a double whammy, if you will, because inflation is so high and so it affects those food costs and that is where we can really help people in the community who may be struggling right now,” Kathleen Forbes, who is the Director of Programs and Services at ECCO, said. “We can help them by providing food to them and they can place an order twice a month when becoming a client.”
To learn more about East Cooper Community outreach, click here.
To find out more about the Community Resource Center, click here.
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