Some states continue to pay emergency SNAP benefits.
- Only 13 states have confirmed emergency benefits for December, down from 35 in November.
- The emergency allowances mean that households can receive the maximum amount for their size, and those already receiving the maximum receive an additional $95.
- It is unclear how far into 2023 additional child support payments will continue. It depends on decisions made at the federal and state level.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been a lifeline for many families in recent years. It provides low-income families with food benefits they can use to purchase fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and other staples.
During the pandemic, the government allowed states to make additional payments in the form of emergency SNAP benefits. That means each eligible household can receive the maximum monthly payment — currently $939 for a family of four in most states. Families who already receive the maximum amount receive an additional $95.
With Christmas on the horizon, this extra money can make a big difference to the bank balances of beneficiary households. Unfortunately, while more than 35 states made emergency payments in November, only 13 confirmed additional payments for December.
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These 13 states will pay emergency food benefits in December
According to the USDA, the following states will extend emergency food payments through December 2022:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
Thanksgiving may have delayed a few announcements, so a few more states may still continue to pay emergency benefits in December. This list was correct as of November 28.
How long will emergency benefits last?
Emergency SNAP benefits are tied to the federal public health emergency. It was first introduced in January 2020 and has been extended every 90 days since then. The latest expansion was announced on October 13, but it’s unclear what will happen next year.
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The Department of Health and Human Services previously said it would give 60 days notice before ending the health emergency. Given that we are now at the end of November and no notice has been given, it is unlikely that the health emergency and associated emergency benefits will be completed before the end of January 2023 .
Individual states also play a role because SNAP is administered locally. Each state decides whether it will extend the additional payments on a monthly basis. This month, fewer states announced extensions.
What to do if you can’t afford food in December
The holiday season always puts additional pressure on household finances, and this is especially true if your state has stopped issuing additional SNAP payments. If you don’t have enough money in your checking account to feed your family, call United Way at 2-1-1 to find out what help is available in your area. You may be able to get help from a local food pantry or soup kitchen, and you may be eligible for extra help with food or other bills.
Here are some ways to go further with your SNAP payment:
- Look for double-up programs: Several states operate programs such as Double Up Food Bucks and other Double Dollar programs that match every dollar you spend on fruits and vegetables at participating food stores and markets.
- Maximize rewards on your spend: You don’t need to have a rewards credit card to get money back on your everyday expenses. Several cashback apps work with SNAP EBT payment cards, so check out the offers before heading to the store. Once you are done shopping, you will need to scan the receipts.
- Always buy with a listing: Shopping lists can save you time and money. They allow you to benefit from promotions specific to cashback applications and are a good way to avoid impulse purchases. Plus, you won’t have to go to the store as often, and your trips will be much faster.
- Look for discounts: Whether it’s coupons, in-store deals or other promotions, discounts make a big difference. Look for deals on big ticket items like detergents and meat. Use sites like Krazy Coupon Lady to find the best deals on the products you need.
- Buy in bulk: Buying in bulk can yield decent savings, but it’s not always practical when your budget is tight. Try teaming up with a neighbor or family member and splitting the purchase. This way, you both benefit from significant savings without having to spend a lot of money upfront.
At the end of the line
Fewer states are offering the emergency allowances, and the extra payments could end altogether at some point in 2023. That means many households could find they get less money for food. SNAP recipients are likely already used to stretching their food budgets. If you’re not already using the tips above, they might be able to help you optimize your food budget.
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