According to the Georgia Department of Family and Human Services website, Bonus SNAP benefits will expire at the end of this month. Here's what Georgia recipients can expect.
Ever since Georgia Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of COVID emergency in 2021, participants of the federal food stamp program, now officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), have received a pandemic bonus to their regular monthly benefit allotment.
Referred to as P-SNAP, (Pandemic Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the agency explains on their website linked above that these emergency funds ranged from a bare minimum of $95 per month for single recipients, to many hundreds of dollars per month for larger families - particularly families with children.
In April of this year, Governor Kemp's office released a statement through their official website that he made the decision not to renew the state of emergency for Georgia. Because of this, when the state of emergency ends on May 31, so will the P-SNAP bonus funds.
While the decision to end the statewide emergency was probably the right one due to the steadily decreasing new case numbers, the impact on the families who have been benefitting from those increased over the past year, couldn't come at a worse time. As food costs overall, fuel costs, housing costs, and so much more are substantially higher than they were a year ago, it's not hard to see how Georgia families will be adversely affected by the drop-off in benefits to pre-pandemic levels.
Because of this, food banks across the state are ramping up their levels of preparedness and doing everything they can to increase their supplies in preparation for what they expect to be an influx of new demand.
Through a report on the Facebook page of the Georgia Food Bank Association, we learned:
Though food demand is below its initial peak during the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the first part of 2021, The Atlanta Community Food Bank is still distributing 30% to 35% more food than it did pre-pandemic.
Kyle Waide, the food bank's President, and CEO, recently told NPR: "Our costs are higher at a time when demand increasing."
Waide said that's because the organization is paying more for the food itself and its vehicle costs are up significantly, mostly due to higher fuel prices.
Waide went on to say:
"It was our preference that we find ways to extend, enhanced SNAP benefits in Georgia. The state made its decision for a variety of reasons, not just because they didn't want to extend benefits, but there are other factors that went into that decision."
These are complex issues...We work closely partners in Washington on both sides of the political spectrum...Everybody we work with believes that everybody should have enough food. Most people who need food assistance, whether from from food pantries or food stamps, work."
Earlier this month, the office of the Governor released a statement declaring that his office would be authorizing the release of millions of dollars from leftover federal pandemic relief funds to several organizations throughout the state in an effort to offset some of the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Around $39 million dollars of that money will go to four organizations specifically related to feeding those in need. They are: America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia, a food bank located in Savannah, The Atlanta Community Food Bank, Meals on Wheels of Middle Georgia, and the Georgia Mountain Food Bank.
Kurt Dillon reporting - Because the truth matters!