Hundreds of thousands of Marylanders are experiencing a significant cut to their federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits this week.
During the pandemic, the food assistance program issued extra funds to low-income households, called emergency allotments, to help weather the national emergency. And now, amid record high inflation and benefits theft, emergency allotments are coming to an end.
“There’s no making up for this,” said Maryland Hunger Solutions Director Michael J. Wilson. “This is going to be devastating.”
Still, nonprofits and local governments across the state are working to lessen the blow. Here are some resources to help keep your family fed.
Re-evaluate your SNAP enrollment and other benefits
With emergency allotments ending, several experts told The Baltimore Banner it’s critical to be enrolled for the maximum SNAP amount possible. This means households should make sure they are accounting for all of their expenses, income, and household size in their applications.
Experts also recommend families look into other benefit programs they could be eligible for — like energy assistance, rental assistance, or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Navigating the paperwork can be difficult. So, here are services that help people enroll in benefits:
- Visit CASH Campaign of Maryland’s website to sign up for a benefits screening, which includes guidance on enrolling in welfare programs, including SNAP.
- Call Maryland Hunger Solutions at 1-866-821-5552 to schedule an appointment for SNAP enrollment assistance.
- Call or email The Maryland Food Bank at (888) 808-7327 or firstname.lastname@example.org for SNAP enrollment assistance.
Locate free food near you
Utilizing food banks and food pantries near you could also help put more food on the table. But it’s an imperfect solution. According to Maryland Food Bank spokesperson Joanna Warner, for every one meal a food bank provides, SNAP provides nine.
“While food banks like MFB and our network of community partners can help, we’re not able to solve the issue of food insecurity alone, Warner said.
Warner recommended utilizing Maryland Food Bank’s “Find Food” webpage, which allows users to enter their address to find free food resources near them.
Also, be sure to look into your local free food resources. For example, Baltimore City offers several emergency food resources and keeps a list of local resources for residents.
In addition, here are other Maryland organizations that can provide free food:
Make cuts where you can
Unfortunately, many families in Maryland will have to make tough choices about how they spend money. To help navigate this daunting task, Veronica Purcell Crosby — a program manager with the CASH Campaign of Maryland — recommends that families seek out financial education services to get their finances in order.
CASH Campaign of Maryland offers counseling services and classes for low-income families to do just that. Similarly, the city of Baltimore has a Financial Empowerment Center supporting families regardless of income status.
Remember you are not alone
If you’re struggling to feed your family, you are far from alone.
The Maryland Food Bank ran an analysis of U.S. Census data as of Feb. 22, 2023. The analysis found that 31% of Maryland adults said that, due to food prices, their children were sometimes or often not eating enough. The review also found that almost 1 in 2 Maryland families making below $35,000 were experiencing food insecurity.
In addition, the Maryland Food Bank found that 35% of Maryland adults are struggling to pay usual household expenses.