By Jonah Chester
Indiana News Service
Indiana has ended its participation in the federally enhanced Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), so going forward, many food-insecure families will have less money for groceries.
For two years, all SNAP recipients received additional benefits to make ends meet.
Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, explained the benefits will once again be based on several factors, such as income and household size. She said recipients can determine their exact benefit amount by calling the 800-number on the back of their electronic benefits card.
“And it will give you the last benefit you received in May, and it will also give you the benefit amount for June,” Weikert Bryant noted. “Families can at least prepare a little bit for the amount that they’ll start seeing when benefits start loading on the fifth.”
Those who need additional food aid can call 211, which will connect them with food aid organizations across the state. Families who rely on free and reduced-cost school meals for kids can also call or text the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s national hunger hotlines to find a local summer meal site. The service offers support in both English and Spanish.
Weikert Bryant pointed out the end of enhanced aid is coming at a tough time for food-insecure families, as inflation for everyday goods remains high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the cost of groceries rose nearly 11% from April 2021 to April 2022.
“It’s also impacting the food bank network as well,” Weikert Bryant emphasized. “Our transportation costs have gone up 20% in the last year. We’re paying 40% more for food purchases to keep up with the demand and make up for the fewer food donations that we’re seeing.”
Weikert Bryant added ending the enhanced food aid will mean a loss of more than $50 million a month of additional SNAP benefits being spent with Indiana grocers and food sellers. At least 17 other states ended federally enhanced SNAP benefits in May.