THe impact of Cutting SNAP Benefits
The increasing need for hunger relief
Could you feed your family for less than $168 a week?
How much did you spend on your last weekly grocery run? Could you feed yourself for a week for only $45? Or provide nutritious meals to your family of four for less than $180 a week? These are the new average benefits for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) after benefits were cut in March to an average of $6 a day/per person. This reduction intensifies the hard choices many individuals and families face when putting dinner on the table, emphasizing the need for additional food assistance that is almost impossible using SNAP alone. At Second Chance Foods, we believe access to healthy, nutritious food is a human right, and that’s why we work hard to connect healthy food to our neighbors in need.
Who is impacted?
The cut to SNAP benefits has impacted nearly 89,000 households in Putnam and Westchester counties, whose average daily benefit fell to only $6.43 a person. $6.43 a day is only the average, with many older adults that only qualify for the minimum benefits and saw their benefits drop from $281 to $23 – a month. You might remember from our previous story, but older adults are particularly at-risk of becoming food insecure because their fixed incomes can make it difficult to afford the rising costs of living essentials.
SNAP benefits are meant to be supplemental assistance, but most participants in New York have income below the poverty line, making this assistance crucial to feeding themselves and their families. When you’re experiencing a crisis like food insecurity, it can be difficult to navigate applying for benefits and any changes to those benefits can impact if your family can get enough to eat every day.
Maximum monthly income for a single household to qualify for SNAP.
Maximum monthly income for a 4 person household to qualify for SNAP.
The cost of food in the Hudson Valley is more than 22% higher than the national average.
Per person/day is the new average rate of benefits in NY. Some benefits dropped to as little as $23 a month.
While multiple factors impact eligibility, these are some numbers for a general frame of reference.
If you or someone you know needs these benefits, please visit the NY SNAP website to check eligibility or apply. If you or someone you know needs assistance through Second Chance Foods, email Info@SecondChanceFoods.org.
The increased demand for for food has put many of our programs at capacity
Will you help us increase our services and grow with a gift today? A donation of any amount nourishes more of our community members who are experiencing a crisis and are at risk of going hungry.
How does Second Chance Foods fill the gap in assistance?
Reducing SNAP benefits means an increased need for other assistance programs like the ones we provide. For example, our Bountiful Meals, Wednesday Distributed Community Supported Nutrition, and Dunbar Heights programs all help supply healthy and delicious food to our neighbors in need at no cost.
All of our programs operate with no barriers to participation. That means no income threshold (sometimes called means testing) and no lengthy paperwork (or any paperwork at all). We work to alleviate other barriers like transportation by having a centralized location for pick up and hope to reduce the stigma associated with assistance by treating our recipients with respect and making food they want to eat. It is always our goal to make healthy eating easy and, because the only healthy food is the food that gets eaten, we make sure it tastes great too!
Multiple studies observe declines in caloric intake, dietary quality, eating occasion frequency, and shopping frequency at the end of the monthly SNAP benefit cycle.
How far does SNAP really go?
Not only have the overall benefits decreased, but SNAP, the most extensive nutrition assistance program administered by the USDA, has always fallen short and struggles to meet the cost of inflation among other factors. The monthly SNAP allotment is based on the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), which USDA sets as a national standard for a minimal cost, nutritionally adequate diet – yet many researchers, advocates, hunger relief organizations, and SNAP participants say these are impractical guidelines with assumptions that don’t fit the reality of most recipients.
In a 2021 study by the Urban Institute, the average meal cost in Putnam County using the TFP cost was 29% higher than the SNAP allowance for a meal, and in Westchester, 18% more. The April 2023 average cost using the TFP reference family of 4 (two adults and two children ages 6-8 and 9-11) had a weekly cost of $224.00. Using the guidelines outlined in the TFP for pounds of food per group (Vegetables, Fruit, Grain, Dairy, Protein, and misc.) and shopping at the Aldi in Danbury, the same amount of food would cost over 22% more and close to $300 per week. And, when factoring in individual preference, diet, allergies, skill level, time, and other assumptions not reflected in the Thrifty Food Plan, this cost is likely more and requires additional support.