SNAP benefits ending March 1, community resources available to help

Extra benefits that have been around since the COVID-19 pandemic began will end on March 1.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 9:18 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Big changes are coming for approximately 900,000 families in North Carolina who have relied on extra money from the government to feed their families for the last couple of years.

Extra benefits that have been around since the COVID-19 pandemic began will end tomorrow, March 1.

Approximately $150 million in federal spending a month was used to help nearly a million households in North Carolina.

Those enrolled in Food and Nutrition Services could see a drop of nearly $95 a month with the benefit amounts going back to what they were before the pandemic.

For example, the average FNS benefit per person per day will decrease from $8.12 to $5.45. Monthly, a family of four can go from receiving around $974 to roughly $650.

Some counties have resource guides for people who need assistance, such as New Hanover County and Brunswick County. The guides consist of locations and phone numbers of programs, soup kitchens, food banks, churches and other organizations or charities that can assist those needing help with food.

Those involved with these services say losing those benefits will have a domino effect on families, especially as prices on everything from groceries to gas remain high. That’s why using what is available is so critical.

“If someone does need assistance with their utility bill, and they have to choose: ‘Do I keep my home, my home warm or cold?’ Depending what season we’re in. ‘Or do I buy groceries for my family?’ Then I would want them to look into the resource guide and contact us because there might be some assistance available to alleviate that factor that would free up money for food,” said Amber Garner, New Hanover County Social Services program manager.

“We’re just doing the best that we can to make sure to be proactive, and get them plugged into the different community partners that can help them,” said Fawn Rhodes, New Hanover County Health and Human Services equity coordinator.

To access the New Hanover County food resource guide, click here. To access the Brunswick County resource guide, click here.

This may come as a surprise to people who were not aware that the extra SNAP, also referred to as “food stamps,” benefits were ending. Food banks and soup kitchens expect an increase in people needing help, especially those who have only received food stamps since the extra benefits were available.

“The COVID pandemic was the first time they accessed these benefits. So, the realization that we have had on our end is that there will be a number of people who will be in a situation really, maybe for the first time ever where they lose some benefits and they’ll be looking for access to food. The story that we want to tell is, the help is there. The food bank and our partnership network is here to help,” said Beth Gaglione, branch director of Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Wilmington.

If you want to help offset the impacts of these benefits ending, just a $1 donation to the food bank can provide five meals. Those wishing to help others receive meals can contribute here.

Another way to help is to participate in a food drive. New Hanover County 4-H clubs are doing what they can with their “Caring HEARTS, Helping HANDS” community service project. It’s their third annual food drive, but this one is striving to help the community that will see a larger need this month. The drive is scheduled to run from March 1 to 31. Below are the drop-off Locations around New Hanover County:

  • N.C. Cooperative Extension of New Hanover County: 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington
  • Lowes Foods at Monkey Junction: 5309 Carolina Beach Road #1, Wilmington
  • Tad’s Barber Shop: 4007 Oleander Drive, Wilmington
  • New Hanover County Library Pleasure Island Branch: 1401 N Lake Park Blvd. #72, Carolina Beach; Pine Valley Branch: 3802 College Road, Wilmington; Northeast (Military Cutoff) Branch: 1241 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington; Main Branch: 201 Chestnut Street, Wilmington