SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With many pandemic-related SNAP benefits expiring, new permanent benefits are set to begin.

Officials with Ozarks Food Harvest, a food distribution center, said it’s clear during this time that the extra SNAP benefits are needed.

Public Information Specialist, Jordan Browning, said SNAP benefits help low-income people buy the food they need for good health.

“Pre-pandemic, we were estimating across Southwest Missouri, that about one in seven people were food insecure,” said Browning. Right now, we’re estimating that’s gone up to one in six people are facing hunger across the Ozarks.”

Browning said that’s why it was critical for there to be pandemic-related SNAP benefits.”Missouri obtained a waiver from the federal government that allowed them to have max benefits for all snap participants across the state during the pandemic,” Browning said. “That will end in August. We also received a federal mandate that had temporarily increased food stamp benefits by 15 percent, that will end in September.”

With these benefits coming to an end, Browning said they were excited to hear new help is on the way.

“Luckily, the Biden administration has done a permanent increase to the food stamp program, so now there’s going to be a permanent 25 percent increase in the SNAP program,” Browning said.

While Browning said the new benefits aren’t a result of the pandemic, they come at the right time.

“The Biden administration has reexamined the Thrifty Food Plan, so that’s used to determine how people get access to food stamp benefits, so that was updated, and it was seen there that there needed to be an increase in the amount people receive, due to the amount of the cost of food,” Browning said.

To learn more about Ozarks Food Harvest, click here. https://ozarksfoodharvest.org/