SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV)– Millions of Americans across the country will lose pandemic-era emergency funds through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on March 1. 

The additional SNAP dollars were granted in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit. States, including New York, enrolled in the federal program to give those using SNAP the maximum number of dollars allowed each month regardless of their income levels. This was a way to supplement families in need as unemployment rates skyrocketed during the pandemic, but three years later and those emergency dollars are expiring.

“As the emergency has been reducing, so is the benefit,”

Amalia Swan, Chief Community Impact Officer, Food Bank of Central New York

According to the Food Bank of Central New York, as of December 2022, 36,367 households comprised of 67,651 individuals were enrolled in SNAP benefits in Onondaga County. 

On average, each individual enrolled in SNAP benefits will be receiving $90 less a month creating a challenge for some families who will again struggle to make ends meet. 

“So to now go back to that a family or an individual having to choose because these dollars aren’t there for food you know do I eat or do I pay my rent do I eat or do I pay my medical bill,”

Karen Belcher, Executive Director, Food Bank of Central New York

The Food Bank of Central New York has been preparing for the expected influx of community members who will need to rely on the emergency food network again. Luckily, the food bank’s shelves are stocked and they’ve been in constant communication with their food pantry partners to ensure an adequate supply for the increased demand is available. 

The food bank’s SNAP Outreach Team has also been fielding dozens of calls from community members wondering where they can get help. Swan says her team can work with individuals to make sure they are maximizing the most deductions they’re eligible for through SNAP based on their income and other factors. The food bank can also point people in the right direction for other food resources near them using their food finder tool