WASHINGTON, D.C. (KOLR) – The Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (P-SNAP) is set to end in August 2021.
P-SNAP provides an additional 15% increase in food assistance to existing recipients and new applicants. The recertification process was waived throughout the pandemic, allowing families who don’t ordinarily qualify for benefits-eligible for P-SNAP.
Governor Mike Parson is ending the additional benefit at the end of July, but regular SNAP benefits will continue. Some applicants report the state agency which processes P-SNAP requests has been slow to respond.
Brandy Tyler, a local mother of three said that her children were attending school virtually for the entire school year. She has applied for P-SNAP benefits to supplement the food they missed in school lunches. Tyler said she applied for benefits on Jun 16th but has not received any communication back.
“I’m pretty sure there were a lot of struggling parents out there that had kids at home that typically would receive free and reduced lunch if they were at school,” said Tyler. “I think it’s very important because all kids need proper nutrition.”
Local food banks may provide another option for people in search of food assistance. The Food Bank of Central & Northeast Missouri helps people sign up for benefits including P-SNAP and P-EBT and answers questions about income guidelines, in addition to their primary responsibility to distribute food to their network agencies.
“We really try to distribute nutritional food like produce, protein, and dairy as much as we can because we know those are the most expensive items to purchase at the grocery stores,” said Seth Wolfmeyer, the Communication and Marketing Manager for The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. “They’re so crucial to a person’s health.”
Wolfmeyer says the food bank has more partners now than before the pandemic.
“We had around 140 partner agencies,” said Wolfmeyer. “It increased slightly so that we’re at 145.”
Zuani Villarreal, Director of Communication at the non-profit Feeding America, says food banks all over the nation, which have been hit hard by the pandemic, have seen a 55% increase in demand.
“The economic crisis that ensued following the health crisis really created a number of different situations, scenarios, and circumstances that affected food banks all over the country and the people that were turning to them for help,” said Villarreal. “Our goal is to make sure everyone has access to nutritious food, whether that is through the charitable food systems, through federal nutritious programs like SNAP, or some other way.”
Feeding America and The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri agree that changes in income affect whether families need services like food banks.
“With the P-SNAP benefits ending, any time you see a reduction in assistance given to people, you see an increase in need of people using food bank services,” said Wolfmeyer.
“Food Banks know that if you take away a resource or source of help for a family in need, they’re going to have to turn somewhere else to fill that gap,” Villarreal adds. “They’re going to turn to food banks for help to help put food on the table.”
The Department of Social Security is encouraging families to apply for P-EBT and P-SNAP benefits by July 31st. Regular SNAP benefits resume in August and recertification interviews will continue.