WASHINGTON (7News) — Starting March 1, people across Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia who rely on food assistance, will have less money to put food on the table for themselves and their families.
Starting Wednesday, those eligible for pandemic-era “emergency allotments” will no longer get the extra cash.
Lifelong D.C. resident Shanita Weeden is one of those impacted.
"I’ve been homeless on and off, so there have been multiple times I’ve had to depend on assistance or SNAP," Weeden said.
Weeden works not one, but two jobs, just to keep up with the economy and high inflation.
"Once they take away this extra $95, I’m only going to get about a hundred something," Weeden said. "Let’s be honest, that can only last me maybe a couple days, or a week.
"I still need to be able to eat the other three weeks of the month."
According to the Capital Area Food Bank’s Hunger Report--which staff says utilizes census data--of the more than 1 million people served by the nonprofit, more than 300,000 people in the Washington metropolitan area used SNAP last year.
While many families are spending more money just to put food on the table--the Capital Area Food Bank is also spending more to keep food on its shelves.
"They're asking us to provide those foods, that are most expensive at the grocery store, so we are now increasingly buying a lot more produce, a lot more protein, because we know those are the items that have gone up the most in price at the grocery store," Capital Area Food Bank CEO and President Radha Muthiah said. "So, for us that translates to a budget of about $24 million a year that we spend on food, and that's in contrast with a budget of $5 million a year that we would spend on food prior to the pandemic.
"It’s the cost of food that’s gone up that's also contributing to this higher food budget that we have."
Numbers on all sides are rising, when ultimately--Muthiah wants fewer people to be food insecure.
"The issue is that no one could have predicted a year ago, that we would be, you know, facing these sustained levels of inflation," Muthiah said. "So, if there could’ve been a little more of a gradual decrease of this particular benefit, knowing the external inflationary pressures that we're facing in the economy, that would've been more helpful to our neighbors."
"By decreasing the amount of assistance given to me, or given to us, definitely knowing that the cost of things are going up, there’s an imbalance," Weeden said.
SNAP provisions are contained in the federal Farm Bill, which is up for renewal in September of 2023.
For more information on how to donate or volunteer with the Capital Area Food Bank, click here.