HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In March 2020, Congress passed H.R.6201, a law that provided emergency allotments to all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households as an early response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Alabama congressional delegation voted for it 5-1-1 in the House and 2-0 in the Senate.
In December 2022, another bill - H.R.2617, or, the "Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023" - passed which, among other things, ended nationwide emergency allotments. Again, the state’s legislators weren’t unanimous on it, voting against it 1-6 in the House and splitting in the Senate.
The conclusion of extra SNAP benefits has groups like the Food Bank of North Alabama, anticipating increased need.
“People will kind of probably be able to manage the first month, but April I think is going to be really when it starts hitting on the food bank and our partners," said Shirley Schofield, Food Bank of North Alabama's chief executive officer.
The size of the cut for a household will depend on how many people live in the household, adult income, and other circumstances like rent, utilities, child care and medical expenses.
But North Alabama is home to folks with food insecurities that don’t meet federal minimums.
“We have a lot of people who just are on that edge and they don't quite qualify for SNAP benefits," said Schofield. "For example, we had a young lady come in last week and she is a veteran, a disabled veteran, and she receives funding through that, so she doesn't receive SNAP benefits, but it still wasn't enough for her to feed her whole family. So she came in needing assistance."
Food Bank of North Alabama C.O.O. Joshua Matthews emphasized that addressing hunger can be done year-round.
“We're always looking for groups to do food and fund drives," Matthews said. "One of the great things about our organization is any food that's donated goes right back out into the community and, because we have a small warehouse, we do try to keep things moving really quickly and get those donations back out to our agency partners and the folks in the community as quick as we can.”
So the changes to funding begins March 1st, but the Food Bank of North Alabama is preparing for this by beginning mobile pantries as soon as April.
Additional information on the SNAP program from the U.S. Department of Agriculture can be found here.