The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is part of a USDA program that helps feed families and individuals who make under a certain income, most often near or below the poverty line. The SNAP program, known in Vermont as 3SquaresVT, has been feeding Vermonters by offering nutrition assistance to over 67,800 vulnerable families and individuals in 2021 and is a vital part of getting food on people’s table. SNAP is most commonly used with EBT cards that can be used to buy fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, dairy products, breads and cereals, and snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages at supermarkets, stores, farm stands and local farmer markets.
The federal government authorized supplemental benefits and lessened requirements to become eligible in order to help households get through the pandemic. The federal 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act ends this additional support, meaning that families will see a cut in their monthly food budget beginning in April of this year.
With the coming cuts to SNAP benefits, recipients will lose their extra benefits anywhere from $100 – $600, depending on the size of the household. This loss of critical nutrition assistance will hurt many Vermonters (over 50% of participants are families with children or families with adults who are disabled) who rely on this program to get the food they need.
This winter many families will have to find other options to get the food they need. Harsh winter conditions in Vermont pose a challenge to all families, especially those who are low-income. Barriers to access include safe and reliable transportation to a grocery store or food pantry, increased financial pressure with high utility bills and availability of healthy and culturally-relevant food within the charitable food system. We will see the effects in the coming months that these budget cuts will have on families and individuals experiencing or at risk of food insecurity in Vermont.
Feeding Chittenden’s Food Shelf, Food Access Network, Stay-at-Home Program and Hot Meal Program are dedicated to getting food to those in need all winter long. We work to understand and address what barriers stand in the way, so that all of our neighbors can get the help they need.
Want to learn more? Check out these resources below:
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – 3SquaresVT – https://www.cbpp.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/snap_factsheet_vermont.pdf