One-third of the households served by ONT are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides the household with a funded debit card that can be used to purchase retail food items. SNAP plays a critical part in maintaining food security in our region and years of research has shown that SNAP is the most effective program to lift children out of poverty, improve academic performance and improve health outcomes for all ages. Moreso, SNAP has the lowest incidence of fraud of all government programs and puts tax dollars right back into local economies as money spent at retailers and farms.
Typically a household’s SNAP allowance is determined on a sliding scale, meaning a family that makes the maximum income allowed will receive fewer SNAP dollars than a family with a lower household income. In 2020, Congress eliminated the pro-rated benefit allotment based on an income sliding scale and provided every eligible household the maximum benefit. So a single senior who was receiving $19/month before COVID, increased to $194/month during the crisis. Since this pandemic supplemental allowance was temporary, ONT anticipated the expiration of this program in Summer 2022, at which time we predicted a resulting surges in need that would have rivaled Summer 2020. However, Congress delayed this rollback through year-end, allowing ONT to respond to and meet inflation-driven demand.
How will this affect the local economy, businesses and employment? This loss of spending power equates to a loss of $7.86M in annual revenue for local grocers. To make up for that loss in revenue, businesses will have to consider cost-saving measures.
This lost revenue is equivalent to wages for 231 minimum wage employees, who may now be at risk of lay-offs, driving even more people into financial crisis and increasing food insecurity.