by Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
January 12, 2023
Throughout the pandemic, most Nevdans receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, also benefited from monthly emergency allotments. But that’s about to end.
On Wednesday, the Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services announced that March will be the last month the agency is allowed to provide the extra food dollars that helped families get enough healthy food during the COVID-19 emergency.
The change is the result of the $1.7 trillion Congressional Consolidated Appropriations Act President Joe Biden signed in late December, which effectively ended the federal public health emergency declaration, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Regular SNAP benefits will continue to be added to recipients’ electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards between the first and the ninth of each month. However, after March 14 second monthly payments will end. Nevadans who receive SNAP are encouraged to prepare for the change in their food benefits.
Families and individuals who qualify for the extra food benefits will see their monthly payments fall by $95 or more, depending on their maximum benefit amount for their household size.
The impact of the change depends on the makeup of households.
For example, a household of three might be eligible for $335 per month in regular SNAP benefits. But with the additional emergency allotments, that same household may have been eligible to receive up to $740 per month, the maximum benefit for a family of three.
However, a household that was already receiving the maximum benefit for its size would have only received an additional emergency allotment of $95.
In total, the DWSS issued more than $1.6 billion in supplemental emergency SNAP benefits to 450,000 Nevada households during the federal emergency declaration.
“Ahead of this change, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services has bolstered budgets for food banks around the country to help address food insecurity,” said Julie Knight, a representative for the DWSS, in a release.
The Nevada Division of Welfare and Supportive Services previously said they are applying for every waiver the USDA has available to support Nevadans once the emergency benefits end.
Previous guidance issued by the federal agency gave states a one month phase-out period to end the extra benefits after the expiration of the national public health emergency, but under the new legislation, states will no longer be allowed to implement a phase-out period.
“Under the new authority, state agencies cannot issue (emergency allotments) for a phase-out month after benefit month February 2023. In other words, states are not allowed to issue EA for benefit month March 2023, or later, under any circumstance,” said SNAP acting associate administrator, Tim English, in a letter to state agencies last week.
Since March 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act has authorized states to issue extra benefits alongside regular SNAP benefits to help households navigate economic stress and food insecurity during the pandemic, as long as a state’s emergency or disaster declaration and the federal Public Health Emergency remained active.
Although Nevada’s public health emergency order ended in May 2022, former Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a proclamation allowing the state to continue issuing the emergency food benefits through February 2023.
Nevada is one of 32 states that has opted to continue issuing extra food dollars through the end of the federal public health emergency declaration.
The loss of emergency food benefits comes after the distribution of Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer payments, another popular food program, ended in November.
That program allowed Nevada to distribute more than $673 million in P-EBT benefits to more than 448,000 children during the months it was allocated last year, according to state officials.