ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Pandemic-era emergency allotment for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits comes to an end in February, raising concern for organizations like No Kid Hungry New York, who say taking away added benefits could cause more food insecurity statewide, especially among families.

“Children who have three meals a day grow up to be stronger, they have better attendance rates, they have better health outcomes,” Rachel Sabella, Director of No Kid Hungry New York, said. “When they don’t have regular access to nutrition, it can impact them in a challenging way.” 

The federal government created an emergency allotment for SNAP recipients in March 2020, providing an average of $90 per person, per month, making a difference for families struggling with inflation and the rising cost of food.

The program was supposed to continue through the end of the COVID-19 emergency, set to end in May, but Congress ended it early through a 2022 omnibus spending package.

With those benefits expiring, advocates are now turning to the 2024 New York State budget for assistance, fighting for funding free breakfast and lunch for all students in schools and for the Know-Up program, which helps people enroll in SNAP benefits across the state.

“For people who may have lost their benefits or for benefits that may have been reduced, this program will help them to go over their income and see if they are eligible for something different,” Sabella said.

The NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and No Kid Hungry New York, are urging New Yorkers impacted by the change to seek other assistance options through food pantries and other programs like WIC, state coupons and utility assistance.

“If their rent went up, if their income went down even slightly, they may be eligible for a benefit change and they’re not aware of that,” Sabella said. “We want families to do that, there are free tax services available across the State of New York, that’s another great way to go in and make sure they’re getting all available tax credits to help them.”