Press release from Pisgah Legal Services:
Life is about to get even harder for low-income people who depend on Food and Nutrition Services, better known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or “food stamps” to feed themselves and their families.
Beginning in March, North Carolina households will no longer receive additional emergency allotments of food stamps, reducing the total monthly amount by $95 or more per household.
Monthly emergency allotment payments began during the pandemic in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19. Now those additional allotments are being rolled back. According to NC Health and Human Services, the average benefit per person per day will decrease from $8.12 to $5.45. They estimate that an average of 900,000 North Carolina households received FNS emergency allotments since March of 2020.
Pisgah Legal Services COO Jaclyn Kiger says, “We expect that thousands more people in Western North Carolina (WNC) will be experiencing food insecurity in the coming months with food costs rising and benefits decreasing. People living in poverty are struggling to feed themselves and their families now and it’s only going to get worse when benefits are cut significantly in March.”
MANNA FoodBank CEO Dr. Claire Neal says, “We are working hard with our partner food pantries across the region to help meet the tremendous need. These cuts to food stamps go into effect in just a few weeks, and we want to get the word out now so that folks can prepare and reach out for help if they need it.”
Nonprofits Pisgah Legal Services and MANNA FoodBank encourage local people in need to take the following steps now:
- Make Sure Your Contact Information is Current
For households receiving food stamps, contact your county’s Department of Social Services (DSS) and connect with the Food and Nutrition Services Department (FNS) to speak with a caseworker to report any changes. (individuals apply through their counties DSS – link here: https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/social-services/local-dss-directory)
- Investigate All Available Resources
Households in need of food, help paying rent or bills, or other immediate assistance should call or contact 211 to find out the most current information about local resources and services.
- Make Sure You Claim Your Refund
If you have not filed taxes in recent years, you may be eligible for a large refund from your tax return or missed stimulus checks, especially if you have children. Contact Pisgah Legal Services to find out if you might be eligible and to inquire about free tax preparation services at (828) 210-3404.
Pisgah Legal Services also offers free legal assistance with certain tax issues through its new Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, created through grants from the Internal Revenue Service and Dogwood Health Trust. Call (828) 253-0406 or apply online at pisgahlegal.org.
- Access Help Through the Healthy Opportunities Program
North Carolina Medicaid Members with a Managed Care Medicaid plan may be eligible for food vouchers and other services to boost overall health through the Healthy Opportunities Pilot Program. For more information and eligibility information call (828) 278-9900 or visit impacthealth.org/hop.
Nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services provides a broad a broad array of free, civil legal aid, anti-poverty advocacy and access to health care in 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in WNC. Pisgah Legal has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Highlands/Cashiers, Hendersonville, Marshall, Newland, Rutherfordton, Spruce Pine and Waynesville. Last year Pisgah Legal assisted more than 21,000 people. If you need help, call Pisgah Legal Services at 828-253-0406 or toll free at 800-489-6144 or visit pisgahlegal.org.
MANNA FoodBank is a private, not-for-profit service organization working to end food insecurity in the 16 counties of WNC, including the Qualla Boundary. MANNA links the food industry to over 200 partner pantries and other human service organizations to get food to thousands of families’ tables every day. MANNA is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization. For food assistance, call 1-800-820-1109 or online atmannafoodbank.org.