ANNAPOLIS, Md. — SNAP recipients may see changes in their benefits beginning in October according to the Maryland Department of Human Services.
According to the state, federal law requires that Maryland return to standard benefit levels effective October 1.
In April 2020, in response to the pandemic, DHS received approval from the USDA to provide a federal SNAP Emergency Allotment, benefiting more than 319,000 SNAP households across the state.
This resulted in more than $33 million per month in additional SNAP benefits to Maryland recipients for the months of April and May in 2020.
This increased recipients monthly allotment up to the maximum monthly allotment for a household of that size. That Emergency Allotment continued through September of 2021.
"The additional SNAP funding was made possible by a temporary change in federal law designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic," says DHS. "The USDA issued the emergency allotment based on a public health emergency declaration by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In January of this year, Maryland SNAP recipients received an additional 15% increase in their total SNAP benefits due to federal legislation. Additionally, the USDA granted a waiver to Maryland, allowing for the continued issuance of emergency allotments through September of this year."
Beginning October 1, recipients may see changes including a cost of living adjustment and a discontinuation of the federal Emergency Allotment.
This discontinuation means that all households eligible for SNAP will receive standard benefits, which are calculated based on qualifications unique to each household including income and expenses, household size, etc.
DHS says they will use Maryland General Funds to supplement SNAP benefits for any customer receiving less than $30, thus increasing any Maryland SNAP customer receiving the $20 federal minimum up to a benefit of $30.
Additional changes effective October 1, include the federal Thrifty Food Plan, which is used to set SNAP benefits and will increase the average regular SNAP benefit amount (not counting Emergency Allotments) by about 27% when compared to pre-pandemic levels, prior to April 2020.
One Baltimore senior shared with us how this change is affecting her greatly.
“A family-sized pack of chicken wings you get about 16 in a pack, I can stretch that for 3 meals but now that has gone up it's 21 dollars a month in the market so 20 dollars a month isn't going to help me I need more,” said retiree Joanne Carter.
“You lay down wondering, 'Ok I got enough for this month but what is next month going to be like.'”
According to the Consumer Price Index, in the last year, food costs at grocery stores have increased 3 percent. Adding to that load, Carter like many others have had to struggle through rent, health care and other daily expenses.
“My phone bill is 70 dollars a month. Then that takes away from me buying clothing and shoes," she explained. "By me being a prosthetic wearer and a diabetic, my shoes cost me more than my food a month cost me, so it's a strain. It's a strain because its only one of me.”
Since the state is boasting a $2.5 billion surplus in their operating budget, she's hopeful authorities funnel some of that money to seniors like her barely hanging on.
“Our officials need to reach out and help us and find out what's going on with their seniors," she said. "We took care of ya’ll the best we could and we're asking that they don’t forget about us. When you’re making your budget, please put enough in there for us.”
Carter said she's grateful for any assistance she's able to get, but is hopeful the state will increase her benefits to at least $100 a month just to make it by.