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COVID boost to SNAP funds ending for Illinois and 34 other states

The change will result in households using Illinois SNAP getting $95/month less on average.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — A temporary boost to the SNAP program which Congress enacted to help families during the COVID pandemic expired on March 1, 2023.

The change means households using SNAP in 35 states including Illinois will receive $95/month less on average. All other states, including Iowa, have already rolled back their COVID SNAP benefits to the pre-pandemic levels.

However, as SNAP benefits are given based on income - some users could see reductions as high as $250/month or more.

Nancy Renkes, CEO of River Bend Food Bank, which has locations and affiliates in Iowa and Illinois, said she's worried about how food banks and pantries in our communities will deal with increased demand.

"We are seeing a lot of first-time families in our line, people who have said 'I always was able to make that dollar stretch enough to put food on the table, and because of the increase in food cost, I'm not able to do that anymore,'" Renkes said.

The change in SNAP benefits comes at a time when 1 in 6 Illinoisans use the program. Of those users, two-thirds are in a family that has children.

Renkes also said the problems all of us are facing at the supermarket also affect the food bank. 

She added that inflation and supply issues on common grocery items like eggs have meant fewer donations from the public and businesses in the community.

"Our food pantries need to know they can get food from us, so they can open up their pantry doors and serve our neighbors," Renkes said. "How are we going to make sure we have sustainability, to keep purchasing food at the level that we are?"

Renkes said she's still grateful for recent donations, such as the 40,000 lbs. recently given by Tyson Foods - but added that maintaining the budget is still a struggle.

She said within the past few months, donations have been anywhere from 25-40% lower than usual.

The U.S. News and World Report says a 'thrifty budget' for a family of four is about $940/month. The average reduction in SNAP benefits makes up about 10% of that monthly budget.

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