NEW ORLEANS — Nearly half-a-million Louisiana households have less money to spend on food today after a boost to the SNAP program ended.
On March 1, emergency SNAP benefits were cut for roughly 462,000 Louisiana Households. Latonya Mavens’ was one of them.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she was one of millions of Americans to lose their job.
“The hours were being cut and I wound up losing my job at the same time,” Mavens said. “So, I had to turn to food stamps.”
Three years later, they’re still an essential part of her budget.
“We’re fighting with a lot of things that we need cash for,” she said. “In order to keep food on the table, keep refrigerators stocked, we need those extra stamps.”
To put it in perspective, a household of three that received around $740 per month in SNAP benefits under the emergency allotment will now go back to receiving around $335 per month, according to the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services.
Second Harvest Food Bank expects to make up for a lot of that deficit.
“Those benefits are ending at a little bit of a scary time for so many of the people that we serve,” Natalie Jayroe, President and CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank said. “A lot of food insecurity and concern still exists among the people we serve. They’re our neighbors. One-out-of-ever-seven Louisianans. We all know people that are in this situation.”
Second Harvest Food Bank is preparing to help more people as the supplemental SNAP benefits expire, but they still haven’t recovered from the past three years. Jayroe says they’re used to housing more than 7.5 million pounds of food in their warehouse, but today they only keep around 3 million pounds on hand.
“The USDA can’t find anyone to pack and ship the food to us that they were giving to us. Our grocery stores don’t have as much to donate as they did before, so you’ve got a bit of a perfect storm,” she said.
But there’s still help for those in need.
Shemica Williams is a benefits specialist at the New Orleans Family Justice Center. She says there are other programs that can help families make up for the loss in SNAP benefits.
“Even though it seems like all hope is gone and everything is increasing, we do have other resources that they just simply don’t know about that can help them maintain their home,” Williams said.
There are education programs, job certification, special training for HVAC and CDL, and they’re all free for SNAP recipients.
To get connected with those programs and find others that could give you financial aid, Williams recommends reaching out to DCFS and the New Orleans Family Justice Center for help finding them.
And to learn more about Second Harvest Food Bank, visit their website.
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