Families across the country are having to make use of food pantries and other community welfare resources as they try to survive until the next wave of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits release.
SNAP recipients across the nation are still feeling the rippling effects of the recent government shutdown that caused adjustments to be made to the benefits release schedule. The early benefits dispersal caused what some are referring to as a SNAP gap, which is essentially a longer than normal amount of time between food stamp payment releases.
As those who have been following food stamp-related news know, the federal government gave states permission to release February benefits early, in preparation for a potential shutdown with no foreseeable end date. Those who receive benefits were informed that the date of their next disbursement was unclear and that they should do their best to stretch out their benefits.
Millions of families across the country ran dry on benefits long before their next disbursement date was scheduled, forcing them to turn to their community food banks for help.
A recent report from KVTB7 News revealed that a local food pantry, St. Vincent De Paul, has seen a nearly 20 percent increase in patrons over the last few weeks alone. Ralph May, executive director of the Idaho facility, says that their goal is to help anyone in need of food.
Orange County DSS is sponsoring a food drive through March 18 to restock their pantry & help families who may still be impacted by the federal government shutdown. Collection stations are set up at all branches of the @OCPLibraries & both DSS locations. pic.twitter.com/ezxMYxZnEL— Orange County NC Gov (@OCNCGOV) February 22, 2019
The organization is doing its best to try and help people make it through until the next round of food stamp payments is released, but even their resources are starting to dwindle.
The pantry, like many others across the nation, is asking for help from those who can donate time and resources, in an effort to continue fighting hunger in their communities during the difficult weeks ahead.
“We’re anticipating in the next two weeks that it’ll be even greater, because we’re still almost two weeks out before when they’ll receive the next set of SNAP benefits.”
The news outlet also spoke with a SNAP recipient who happened to be present during their time at St. Vincent De Paul. The woman, named Rose, revealed to KVTB7 that the help and resources provided by the community food pantry have been a “godsend” for her.
She explained that the early benefit release actually made it more difficult to budget their shopping. The benefits Rose received to feed herself and her daughter actually ran out halfway into the month.
“I mean, if you’re trying to feed a family on less than $200 a month in food stamps, it gets a little penny pinching there.” the mother explained.
Rose is not alone in her struggle — SNAP recipients across the country are dealing with similar situations.
While there is no official date set in stone, many states are preparing to release March benefits early, in an effort to help those who were unable to stretch their February benefits.