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Pandemic boost to SNAP benefits will soon end for 100,000 Maine households

A grocery store in Maine seen early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nick Woodward
Maine Public
A grocery store in Maine seen early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maine households that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to buy food will see a reduction in benefits starting next month.

That's when extra pandemic benefits will end. Alex Carter of Maine Equal Justice says it will be a devastating blow, with each household seeing a reduction of at least $95, and an average reduction that's double that amount, at $190.

"Food prices are up 10% from just last year. So the same amount of benefit doesn't stretch as far. So there's a lot of fear and anxiety both among people who are receiving SNAP and also our service providers about what this will look like next month and how our charitable food systems will really be stretched," Carter says.

Courtney Kennedy of Good Shepherd Food Bank says that will increase demand for food pantries, which is not a long-term solution.

"The charitable food system cannot end food insecurity," Kennedy says. "We really, really need to reevaluate and look at SNAP, and the emergency allocation has really allowed for there to be an opportunity for people to feed their families without relying on the charitable food system."

Advocates for low-income households say Congress has an opportunity to boost SNAP benefits in the upcoming farm bill.

In the meantime, they're urging individuals who will lose benefits to update their information on income and expenses with the state to ensure they receive the full benefit they're eligible for.