The Antlers American

SNAP emergency benefits expire nationwide in February - Oklahomans encouraged to plan for a return to pre-pandemic benefits beginning March 1

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Oklahoma Human Services announced today that emergency payments intended to increase households’ monthly Supplement­al Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in response to the pandemic are coming to an end in February. These additional benefits launched with the Families First Coronaviru­s Response Act in 2020, but are being brought to an end with the passage of the Consolidat­ed Appropriat­ions Act of 2023.

Oklahomans should plan for a return to pre-pandemic SNAP benefits beginning March 1.

For the past nearly three years, Oklahomans receiving SNAP benefits have been receiving an increased benefit allotment above the amount for which they would have been traditiona­lly financiall­y eligible due to the pandemic. Financial eligibilit­y is based upon a variety of individual­ized factors including household size, income, countable household expenses and other details.

These additional benefits, called “emergency allotments,” arrive in the latter half of the month, while customers’ regular SNAP benefits are loaded onto their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards the first through the tenth of the month.

“The agency knows these additional benefits have been critical to meeting the needs of Oklahomans during such difficult times,” said Deb Smith, Director of Adult and Family Services. “We want to give families as much time as we can to plan to ease the transition into the end of the emergency allotments. We can also make connection­s to a host of wonderful community partners who stand in the gaps for our customers to offer help.”

SNAP food benefits are 100 percent federally funded and help low-income families supplement their food budgets. In fiscal year 2022 (FY22), more than 408,000 Oklahoma families, including over 855,000 individual­s, received SNAP benefits. In FY22, the average benefit was $7.07 per person, per day or $2.36 per meal. Most recipients are children, older adults and individual­s with disabiliti­es, including disabled military veterans.

“We know that these increased benefits have been important to so many Oklahomans over the last three years and that this change will impact some SNAP users harder than others, particular­ly our senior and disabled neighbors,” said Chris Bernard, President/CEO of Hunger Free Oklahoma. “Undoubtedl­y, this will create an increased demand on our charitable organizati­ons across the state and an increased need for Oklahomans to support their local food pantries and food banks. Hunger Free Oklahoma also stands ready to assist people and organizati­ons to connect to more federal food resources and make sure that they are up to date in their informatio­n to receive the benefits to which they are entitled.”

Oklahoma Human Services cares about its customers and knows this change will impact the way Oklahomans feed their families. There are a number of community resources available across the state to help.

• 2-1-1: Call 2-1-1 or visit https://csctulsa.org/211-oklahoma/

• Be a Neighbor: Visit https://beaneighbo­r.ok.gov/s/

• Hunger Free Oklahoma: Call (877) 760-0114 or visit https://www.hungerfree­ok.org/

• Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma: Call 405-972-1111 or visit https://www.regionalfo­odbank.org/

• Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma: In Tulsa, call 918-585-2800 or McAlester, call 918429-7755 or visit https://www.okfoodbank.org/

• Oklahoma Women, Infants & Children Program (WIC): Call (405) 426-8500 or visit https://oklahoma.gov/health/services/children-family-health/wic.gov/health/services/children-family-health/wic.html

Oklahomans who need to apply for SNAP, Child Care assistance or other programs administer­ed by Oklahoma Human Services should visit https://okdhslive.org/.

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