Southern Oregon food banks brace for demand after extra SNAP benefits end

MEDFORD, Ore — Emergency snap benefits that were issued during the federal pandemic declaration, ended at the beginning of March – leaving many food banks bracing for a demand in need. 

For the first time in nearly three years, SNAP households will only receive their regular benefits. In years prior, emergency allotments were issued on top of the typical monthly payment.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, nearly 40,000 people in Jackson county receive SNAP food benefits. Before March, an average of $565 were issued per month. Individuals now receive an average of about $394.

The change is a 30% decrease.

The same impact applies to the 21,164 SNAP individuals in Josephine county.

“We don’t know what kind of impact [the loss of emergency benefits] is going to have on our pantries,” Marcee Champion, food programs director at ACCESS said. “But we know it is going to have an impact.”

Champion notes that it typically notices a surge in need, whenever there is a change to government benefits.

“Over the last few years we sort of seen a steady increase in the number of people attending our pantries,” Champion said. “We’ve seen spikes of up to 80%.” 

Jake Sunderland, press secretary with DHS, said his office is encouraging affected households to contact resources like 211 and the Oregon Food Bank.

“As Oregon continues to be impacted by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, we know that without these emergency food benefits some in Oregon may experience hardship and hunger.” Sunderland wrote in an email.

To combat the issue, organizations like ACCESS want to make sure families know that help is available.

Its goal is to ensure no one goes hungry.

” We can be an asset for the community for people who may not even realize that they qualify,” Champion said. ” [For an example] the requirements to receive benefits from our pantries for a family of four, your [income] could be up to $7,500 dollars a month.

For a list on pantries near you and ways you can donate, visit here: ACCESS

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