Colorado food banks brace for surge in demand as pandemic-era boost to SNAP benefits ends |

Colorado food banks brace for surge in demand as pandemic-era boost to SNAP benefits ends

Average recipient of federal food assistance in Colorado will lose $90 per month starting in March

Meg Wingerter
Denver Post
Volunteers sort and box foods at Tri-City Baptist Food Bank in Westminster on on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Volunteers served about 400 families.
Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Colorado’s food banks are expecting a surge in demand over the coming weeks as extra pandemic food assistance is cut off.

Since March 2020, people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, have received the maximum legal allotment for their household size. Starting Wednesday, the program will revert back to its previous formula, based on household income and certain expenses, such as rent and utilities.

The Colorado Department of Human Services estimated the average person receiving SNAP benefits in the state will lose about $90 in assistance per month, for a roughly $53 million monthly reduction overall. In January, monthly payments averaged about $538 per household in Colorado, and about 553,000 people in more than 291,000 households received food assistance.

The “emergency allotments” were supposed to expire when the federal public health emergency ends in May, but Congress opted to end them early. Nearly 30 million people nationwide will see their food assistance reduced this month. Eighteen states already reduced benefits, affecting about 10 million people.

Erin Pulling, president and CEO of Food Bank of the Rockies, said the organization estimated its costs for purchasing food to share with its 800 partners could rise 20% based on increased need, though it’s difficult to project demand.

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