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Emergency SNAP benefits set to expire in September, but food insecurity remains high due to pandemic

A nationwide survey expects 7 million more people will experience food insecurity this year than in 2019.

NORFOLK, Va. — A federal boost to SNAP benefits is scheduled to run out in September.

Here in Hampton Roads, there’s a concern about what a dip in those benefits could mean for families who’ve banked on it during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You know, a lot of people who faced significant impacts of COVID-19, particularly financially, are still dealing with the effects of those,” said Kelsey Mohring, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility & Marketing at United Way of South Hampton Roads.  

Feeding America Action predicts 7 million more people will experience food insecurity this year than in 2019

Mohring said the impact of COVID-19 is still very much being felt in the area. 

“We do have a tendency to think that because life is getting back to normal, we’re getting back to work and kids are back in school... that the need has gone down," she said. "But it really hasn’t."

Morhing said 60 percent of requests coming to United Way's COVID-19 hotline deal with challenges accessing food. 

In Virginia, people who qualify for emergency SNAP benefits will receive the additional money on their EBT cards on Friday, July 16. The benefits are for those who do not already get the maximum allotment as part of their regular monthly benefits.

Right now, there's still no word from Congress on what will happen once the extra aid expires in September. But it may take a few years for people hit the hardest to recover financially from the avalanche of challenges brought on by the pandemic, said Mohring.  

"So we know that food insecurity has been a challenge that has been exasperated by this, and I think that SNAP benefits are an important way to provide that assistance," she said.  

Mohring also said it’s a reminder of the importance of local agencies and nonprofits to build networks that support the community, and the United Way is already planning in case we have to face anything like this again. 

As of March, the USDA said 5 million more Americans depend on the SNAP program.