‘You can’t just quit’: Parents struggle to feed their families after extra SNAP benefits end -Dlight News

'You can't just quit': Parents struggle to feed their families after extra SNAP benefits end

An earlier version of this story misstated Jasmine Wooten’s maiden name. Tori Miesko, a medical biller and single mom of two, used to skip lunch at work and snack on chips so her kids could eat apples and oranges. Miesko, 29, of Pittsburgh, Pa. lives in, uses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table and provide breakfast for her children. This month, his benefits dropped from about $700 to $250. She used to buy grapes and strawberries to mix things up, but she can’t afford it anymore. “What else do I have to do? You can’t just quit,” Misko said. “You have to use your ‘mommy brain’ and figure out what’s going to hurt you the least to lose.” She splits her $1,800 monthly income with SNAP benefits between her rent and utilities, car insurance, gas, child care and groceries. Congress authorized a temporary increase in SNAP benefits in March 2020, called an emergency allotment, to help people with pandemic-related business closings and job losses. These payments gave participants at least $95 on top of their original monthly benefits. “‘Parents worry that they won’t be able to afford healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and will instead have to rely on cheap processed foods to feed their children.'” – Jessica Burrows, Mommersizing’s hunger and food insecurity campaign director , the end of enhanced SNAP payments but the latest omnibus spending bill ended emergency allocations for most states after their February issuance. Families with children will lose an average of $223 per month, according to calculations by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. During the day, Misko and her two children usually have cereal or oatmeal for breakfast. Children snack on apples and oranges throughout the day and eat their lunch at daycare. Misko, meanwhile, doesn’t eat until dinner, which is usually pasta or a stew she makes on Sunday. Other benefits introduced earlier in the pandemic were a great help, she added. For example, a one-year increase in child tax credit payments in 2021 allows him to pay for his car insurance; When they finished, he presented another challenge. SNAP recipients like Miesko are already financially vulnerable. To qualify for SNAP benefits, most families must have a monthly income of less than 130% of the adjusted poverty line. (SNAP recipients in Alaska and Hawaii meet slightly higher income limits.) According to a recent poll by the data company Numerator, 45% of SNAP recipients have children, compared to 28% of households without SNAP. According to the Census Bureau Household Pulse, nearly three in ten SNAP households said they “sometimes” did not have enough food to eat in the past 7 days, while 11% said they “often” did not have enough food to eat in the past 7 days. The survey polled more than 10 million SNAP households. (A 7-day period from February 1 to February 13, 2023 was covered.) Although the worst days of the pandemic appear to be over, food-equity advocates say high inflation presents new challenges for low-income families. is doing The annual inflation rate was 6% in February, according to government data released on Tuesday. Food prices rose 9.5% from the same month a year ago, and grocery prices rose 10.2%. Food inflation in August 2022 was 11.4% higher than last year.SNAP benefits do not adjust for inflation Food insecurity is on the rise, experts and advocates have recently warned, and if no public assistance is provided, many people will fall off the “hunger cliff,” meaning families suddenly find themselves without food because of high prices and declining SNAP benefits. Scarcity will be experienced. Adding to the pressure felt by SNAP recipients: The Consumer Price Index showed food prices in elementary and middle schools rose nearly 300% in February from a year earlier, largely due to the closing of the last universal school-meal program. The fall universal school-meal program was part of the federal government’s pandemic-era emergency nutrition relief. Jasmine Wooten, 33, recently graduated as a social worker and is a single mom to her two children, Nyomi, 11, and Arias, 8. Courtesy of Jasmine Wooten As low-income families rely on public assistance to make ends meet, few programs have been able to keep pace with rising prices over the past year. Last September the maximum monthly SNAP benefit for a family of four was $130 less than the USDA’s estimate of the amount needed for a “nutritious, budget-conscious food plan”; That deficit narrowed to $28 the following month after the benefit level was updated, researchers Gregory ACS and Laura Wheaton of the center-left Urban Institute wrote in a February report. Jasmine Wooten, a 33-year-old mother of two, volunteers three times a week for Motherful, a local pantry project for single mothers based in Columbus, Ohio. She also gets food from the pantry, which she said is a big help to her family. Her monthly SNAP benefits dropped by $95 this month to $650. Wooten has seen an influx of moms turning to the pantry since January, she said. “She was busy over the holidays, but that’s typical. People are really trying to supplement those big holiday meals,” Wooten said. “But in the new year, it’s even busier.” Since Motherful began at the beginning of the pandemic, the program has continued to see increased demand from single mothers, said Lisa Woodward, co-founder and co-director of the organization. The nonprofit has partnered with Trader Joe’s and opens three times a week to provide food items like fresh vegetables and meat to local moms “from all zip codes and all income levels.” The program also helps many single mothers who need help but don’t qualify for SNAP, Woodward said.The stigma of being a single parent Wages for low-income mothers in particular are struggling to keep up with inflation, said Jessica Burroughs, North Carolina hunger and food insecurity campaign director for MomsRising, a grassroots advocacy organization. Balancing work and childcare is hard work, especially as a parent. That’s why Wooten, who recently graduated as a social worker after six years of schooling, is dedicated to finding a job that pays enough to get her family off food-assistance programs. A low-income job that pays $20 an hour brings in cash, she said, but it also means she has to pay for child care support while she’s at work. Wooten will lose most of her SNAP and Medicaid benefits when her income increases. And the clock is ticking: Wooten and her children currently live in a rent-free housing program, but that will soon change. “If I work at Amazon [warehouses], I don’t have time to go to the pantry,” Wooten said. “There’s a lot to being a single mom that people don’t look inward and understand. So it’s often thought of as an excuse, and it’s not at all.” In the meantime, she continues to find ways to cut costs for her family. Wooten asked her children to make sure to use a few squares of toilet paper when going to the bathroom to save on toiletries, and said she is constantly faced with such difficult choices. “So it’s trying to balance between, ‘Can I pay my car note or do I need to call an extension? How do I get my cell phone?'” Wooten said. “It’s something that I can’t go without – I have to be able to approach employers.” Parents cut back on fruits and vegetables — and small pleasures Across North Carolina — and across the country — mothers have expressed fear and concern about the end of SNAP emergency allocations, Burroughs said. “Many of our members were already struggling to get their SNAP funds to last through the month, and said these cuts would be devastating,” Burroughs told MarketWatch. “Parents worry that they won’t be able to afford healthy, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and will instead have to rely on cheap processed foods to feed their children.” In the most recent monthly survey by Providers, an app for SNAP users to check their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) balance, one Colorado user commented, “Losing benefits would be a big blow. We just have to eat a lot less. I’ll make sure my son eats, even if it means I have to skip a meal here and there.” Misko, a Pittsburgh mom, cooks a big meal on Sundays that usually lasts three to four days. For the rest of the week, Misko had to resort to McDonald’s to save money — “which obviously isn’t a healthy option, but it’s cheaper,” she said. For many parents, making trade-offs to ensure their kids don’t go hungry is nothing new. No. In an early February poll of more than 550 parents by Parents Together Action, a family-advocacy nonprofit, 65% of parents said they would have to buy fewer fruits and vegetables or change the brands of food they buy. The Bureau of Moms Raising said North A Carolina mom shared with her that the pandemic-era extra EBT money allowed her to put more fresh fruits and vegetables on the table, including her son’s favorite dragon fruit. Before the emergency allotment, Burroughs said, a woman would normally have “her tomato And cucumbers had to be counted.” Misko said he had to continue working with limited resources. That included cutting back on the shampoo she loved and was looking forward to. “The little things that make life a little more bearable — you’ve got to get rid of them sometimes,” Misko said. Related: Orange juice, a common offering in public schools, is getting more expensive ‘Food inflation is coming down,’ Biden says, but experts say food insecurity is on the rise in America Inflation is easing, but some grocery prices in 2023 Expectations are on the rise — including prices that have risen nearly 60% in the past year

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