Temporary Boost to SNAP Benefits Ended – One Month Later

Temporary Boost to SNAP Benefits Ended – One Month Later

March 29, 2023
Retail Industry Insights

By, Stephanie Schultz, MSM, RDN, CDN; RD Ambassador to the RDBA

At the beginning of March, over 30 million people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were affected when the temporary boost to SNAP benefits ended. On average, participants are now receiving about $82 less per month in SNAP benefits, according to the Food Research & Action Center. Some households saw reductions of $250 or more. This, coupled with the rising costs of food, may leave many shoppers looking for ways to do more with less.

The temporary boost to the SNAP benefits put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, known as emergency allotments, ended nationwide after the February 2023 issuance. According to the USDA, “SNAP emergency allotments were a temporary strategy authorized by Congress to help low-income individuals and families deal with the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 law recently passed by Congress ends emergency allotments after the February 2023 issuance.”

Many shoppers in supermarkets depend on SNAP benefits. Depending on location, some stores see 20-30% of their volume coming from SNAP beneficiaries. Therefore, supermarkets can expect to feel the effects of these dollars being eliminated from the economy. In addition, there will likely be shifts in shopping patterns and health outcomes (disproportionally) for certain populations.

According to the USDA, more than 80% of SNAP beneficiaries are working families, people with disabilities or elderly people. About two-thirds of SNAP households include children.

NPR reported that the steepest drops will disproportionately hit elderly people. Older adults who qualify for the minimum SNAP benefit will see their amount fall from $281 per month to just $23. On average, those who qualify for SNAP will now receive about $6 per person per day.

Retail dietitians can use this information when planning education and activations. You may consider partnerships with senior centers in your community or develop campaigns around “ways to save” or  affordable family meals, similar to the #9DollarDayChallenge that Jacqueline Gomes, Registered Dietitian at Foodtown, created. Regardless of the approach, retail dietitians are in a position to help this population reacclimate to the pre-pandemic allocations and maximize the SNAP benefits they do receive.