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Food assistance recipients will see benefits drop by $95 or more this month

A box of assorted soups from the Food Bank of Central New York sits in a storage room at the Canton Neighborhood Center.
Photo: Lucy Grindon
A box of assorted soups from the Food Bank of Central New York sits in a storage room at the Canton Neighborhood Center.

(NCPR) - This month, households that receive government benefits to help pay for groceries will see their food budgets decrease by at least $95 per person.

As of yesterday, the government is no longer giving out the "emergency allotments" that congress added to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at the start of the pandemic.

With inflation still high, and with less money on their EBT cards, some people will have to scramble to make ends meet.

Karen Caldon is the Head Social Welfare Examiner for the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services. She said her biggest concern right now is making sure that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beneficiaries are aware that they'll now be getting less money for groceries. Letters and text messages have been sent out to alert people that the "emergency allotments" are ending, but Caldon said she's worried the message may not have reached everybody.

"There may be people counting on it being there, and even with all the advertising, they may not be aware that it's not coming this month," she said.

It's important that people know in advance, she said, so they can figure out how they're going to put enough food on the table.

Outside a grocery store in Canton this week, customers said that prices are still really high from inflation.

"Eggs are definitely something very noticeable right now," said Nick Archetko at the Canton Price Chopper.

The price of eggs has never been higher, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bread, milk, chicken, beef and oranges are all more expensive now than they were before the pandemic.

Jamie Briggs was also out grocery shopping this week. She said she's noticed increases in the prices of fresh meat, produce, dairy and eggs.

Caldon, from the Social Services Department, said more people will now have to look to local organizations for help.

"It's gonna fall back on local food pantries for those people that can't make it without it," Caldon said.

In Canton, the food banks are the Church and Community Program and the Canton Neighborhood Center.

There are dozens of food pantries across the North Country. You can find one near you at foodbankcny.org.

Copyright 2023, North Country Public Radio.