Taking SNAP Benefits from Families Perpetuates a Cycle of Inequitable Access

In March 2020, millions of American families struggling with uncertainty due to the pandemic were given a lifeline: SNAP benefits were increased by a minimum of $95 per month. For many, this meant no longer having to choose between paying a utility bill and having enough food to feed their family. It was a part of a package of benefits that substantially reduced poverty for families and children, in particular.

SNAP EBT Benefits Accepted Here sign in grocery store window

When those additional benefits disappeared in many states on March 1, 2023, that invaluable resource was taken away. What’s more, those same families are facing rising food costs and record-high inflation. Imagine a 30-40% reduction in your monthly food budget, and what that would do to your ability to put nutritious food on the table for your family. Denise, a participant in one of Partnership for a Healthier America’s (PHA) fresh food access programs put it best.

It’s been hard for me to get fresh vegetables, especially this last year. Taking care of my grandson and with my job, it’s hard to make it to the store. Even when I do, most of it’s too expensive and sometimes, I’m afraid he won’t eat it and it will just go bad.

-Denise K., Philadelphia, PA

When cuts are made to effective food programs like SNAP, it moves us further away from affordable access to good food, especially for families like Denise’s who already live in communities that lack that access. At PHA, our mission is to improve Food Equity, and SNAP’s ability to help lift families out of poverty is vital in creating a more equitable and fair food system. It’s also critical to providing access to the vegetables and fruits that build health.

Letting these benefits expire also places an insurmountable burden on food banks, food pantries and the community partners we work with every day. According to many of them, it may be impossible for the charitable sector to fill the gap that these cuts will leave behind.

There’s no way, that I see, that we’re ever going to make up fully for what’s being lost.

-Ellen Vollinger, SNAP director for the Food Research & Action Center, an anti-hunger nonprofit in Washington, D.C. source

PHA works across all sectors - business, nonprofits, and the government - to create sustainable and affordable access to good food. For 1 in 6 Americans, good food is either too far away, too expensive, or both. We cannot accomplish this mission without programs like SNAP. Your support of our work helps us fight for greater access to effective programs that reduce poverty, increase Food Equity and build healthier communities.

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