July 19, 2022
As soon as this fall, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration (PHE) could end, and with it, boosts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. That looming “hunger cliff” threatens greater hardship for many in Maryland and across the country.
Despite being one of the wealthier states in terms of per capita income, hundreds of thousands of Maryland residents rely on SNAP to meet their daily nutritional needs. These same households with low-income struggling to put food on the table have felt their food and nutritional needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the increased need for assistance for so many residents, in March 2020, Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that provided for U.S. Department of Agriculture approving state requests to issue Emergency Allotments (EAs). SNAP Emergency Allotments increase SNAP monthly benefits in Maryland to the maximum allotment for households of their size and provide an extra $95 a month to the lowest-income SNAP households. SNAP EAs have been crucial in helping 701,000 residents put healthy food on the table.
What Will Happen When SNAP EAs End?
When SNAP EAs end, on average, SNAP participants in Maryland and other EA states are expected to lose $82, a person, a month, in food benefits. This will increase the challenge of stretching their food benefits throughout the month. It also will exacerbate the difficult choices they are forced to make, between putting healthy food on the table and meeting their other basic needs such as housing, transportation, and healthcare.
Preventing the Hunger Cliff
As Marylanders continue to recover from the lingering effects of the pandemic, we must ensure that they have access to the nutrition they need.
Earlier this year, Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS) circulated a sign-on letter to Maryland Secretary of Human Services Padilla and Congress urging the extension of Emergency Allotments.
Join MDHS and FRAC in calling on members of Congress to pass federal legislation to strengthen SNAP benefits and eligibility on a permanent basis.