Feb 28, 2023 - News

COVID-era food assistance ends for nearly one million

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Nearly one million North Carolina residents will lose additional food assistance benefits at the end of February, stripping low-income families of at least $95 a month, according to the state health department.

Driving the news: After nearly three years in place, the amount of aid provided to low-income families to combat food insecurity through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will return to pre-pandemic levels, Axios' Sareen Habeshian writes.

Why it matters: The change will mean nearly 9% of North Carolinians will have a smaller food budget at a moment when inflation is driving up grocery bills.

What they're saying: "These programs really helped during COVID, and we saw that food insecurity did not rise as much as everyone predicted it would," Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina spokesperson Jessica Slider Whichard told Axios.

  • "We're incredibly thankful for that. And now, as things start to sunset and programs like this expire, we're just kind of waiting to see what happens."

By the numbers: More than 41 million Americans used SNAP benefits in 2022, according to USDA data.

  • More than 90,000 Wake County residents 40,000 in Durham receive those same benefits as of January, state data shows.

What's next: The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is hosting six no-cost pop-up food distribution markets in March.

  • March 2: Hopkins Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon, from 10am-12pm
  • March 9 and 23: Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Louisburg, from 10am-12pm
  • March 13: First Baptist Church at 109 W John St. in Mount Olive, 10am-12pm
  • March 17: Oak Grove Baptist Church in Littleton, 10am-12pm
  • March 21: Lions Park in Raleigh, 11am-1pm
  • March 22: Halifax County Center Halifax, 10am-12pm

What we're watching: Congressional division over funding for nutrition programs means low-income households that benefitted from extra benefits won't be able to count on relief in this year's farm bill, which funds SNAP, Axios' Ayurella Horn-Muller writes.


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