Extra help during the Covid-19 pandemic provided to Vermonters who qualify for food stamps will run out next month, the Vermont Department for Children and Families announced Tuesday.
Households that qualified got additional payments on top of the funding they already received monthly to help cover food costs. The extra funding began in March 2020 and “reached over 40,000 Vermont households comprised of over 68,000 individuals,” according to a press release.
People eligible for the extra benefits will continue to receive them until mid-March, then will revert to their normal monthly payments, officials said.
The end of the extra funding in mid-March could be a serious issue for Vermonters struggling with food insecurity, Leslie Wisdom, director of Vermont’s Food and Nutrition Program, said in an interview.
“Already, I think folks on our program may have been struggling with meeting all of their economic needs,” Wisdom said. “The ending of these extra benefits right now, in winter with high inflation during an economically stressful time, is going to have a real impact on families.”
The Vermont food stamp program is known as 3SquaresVT, but it is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides money to offset food costs for people with low incomes.
People who apply for benefits through 3SquaresVT undergo a complex eligibility process, in which officials review household income, deductions, and sometimes their resources to see if they qualify, Wisdom said. The maximum monthly benefit for a family of four is $939.
Most households that originally qualified for food stamps also qualified for the extra benefits, Wisdom said. The extra monthly funding ensured that each household received the maximum amount allotted based on the number of people in the home, even if the actual amount had been less due to other criteria.
While the regular 3SquaresVT benefits are received on the first of every month, the extra money arrives in the middle of the month, Wisdom said.
The department released a bulleted list of resources for Vermonters who may need additional food assistance, including calling 211, using the Vermont Foodbank and more.
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