WASHINGTON — Nearly 30 million Americans received extra government help with grocery bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, as of March 1, that extra boost will be gone.
"They will see an average of $93 dollars less a month in their benefits," said Radha Muthiah, the President and CEO of Capital Area Food Bank.
"$93 translates to about 23 fewer meals they can provide to their families," said Muthiah.
While for the average recipient, the change will mean about $90 less per month, for many, it could be much more, an analysis shows. Benefits will return to usual levels, which are based largely on a household's income, size and certain expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Muthiah told WUSA9 more than 330,000 people in the area they serve across the DMV rely on SNAP benefits.
"This comes against a backdrop of inflation that's still really high and so many of our clients are being squeezed on both ends," she said.
With the boost ending, it leaves some families with tough decisions to make.
"They have some critical choices to make. How are they going to make up this 23 meal meal gap? For some it means prioritizing their children," she said.
She said senior citizens might feel like they have to choice between medicine and food, "trade-offs you don't want to see people making".
This is where organizations like Capital Area Food Bank come in. They work with 400 non-profits across D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
It could be some time before they start to see an impact, since the delivery of SNAP Benefits are staggered throughout the month, but they're still preparing to see an uptick in need.
"We have procured a few additional truckloads of food in anticipation," said Muthiah.
She told WUSA9 they'll also help by advocating for strengthening the SNAP Benefit program. She said the program is important not only for those in need, but for the economy.
"This allows people to purchase food, so it enables choice, to decide what's best for them and their families. It also supports economic growth because you're going to purchase food at your local grocery store," said Muthiah.
She told WUSA9 that seeking help to put food on the table is not something to be ashamed of and they are here to help.
"No one blames you for being in the situation you are in. This economic hardship can effect any of us at different points in time just know that there are organizations like us and our network who are here to support you," said Muthiah.
They have an interactive map on their website to help you find the closest food bank or pantry to you.