Food pantry sees more need after SNAP benefits return to pre-pandemic level

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 5:52 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - With the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, ending its pandemic benefits recently, food pantries are getting busier.

“Just last month we saw 15 new individuals, new households come to the pantry that have never accessed the pantry before. We’re anticipating much more,” said Watertown Urban Mission Executive Director Cher VanBrocklin.

People are seeing, on average, $80 a month less on their SNAP cards.

VanBrocklin says it’s bad timing for people to lose this help.

“People come in here and just be kind of devastated that they don’t know what they are going to do anymore. It has been very heart-wrenching,” she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 80 percent of people with SNAP are working families, people with disabilities, or elderly people.

VanBrocklin says although people are getting some help, the pantry sees between 40 and 60 people daily. And with high food prices, the benefits they are getting aren’t going far.

“We’re very motivated to strengthen our community, and we can’t do that if we’re not working to help those in need,” she said.

She says with the help of donations, Jefferson County will not face what some are calling a hunger cliff as a result of the benefits cut.