Calls for food assistance triple as pandemic SNAP benefits end

By Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator

The federal government ended the extra food assistance provided to families in need through the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of February, and now state officials say they’re hearing from people in need.

Calls to Louisiana’s 211 information line from citizens seeking food aid have tripled since the start of February, according to Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Terri Ricks. In the first week of February, the hotline totaled 211 calls for food assistance. For the week of March 8, the number reached 608.

More than 471,000 households in Louisiana receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That assistance helps feed some 953,000 people, Ricks said. 

At Thursday’s meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, the DCFS secretary told lawmakers about one SNAP recipient who has seen her monthly benefits drop from $280 to around $20. 

Ricks said the public is urged to call 211 for information about alternative food assistance programs. SNAP recipients should also contact DCFS if they believe they are eligible for more benefits. For example, a family receiving assistance may have grown during the pandemic, or a recipient may have had a change in household income or employment that means they qualify for more food assistance.   

More information is available at the department’s SNAP website.

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