Oregon officials are doling out the last of extra pandemic-related food benefits to low-income families with young children.
About 73,000 households will receive a lump sum for their 99,000 children, according to Jake Sunderland, press secretary for the Oregon Department of Human Services. The agency administers federal food aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, but the federal government sets benefits and any emergency aid.
The money deposited this week will go to families with children younger than 6 who qualified for SNAP benefits from September 2022 and this April. Each family will receive an extra $67 per child for every month they qualified for SNAP, with an extra $30 for May. The maximum extra benefit is $566 per child, the department said in a release.
A total of $43 million is being distributed to SNAP cards, the agency said in a news release.
Families no longer receiving SNAP payments will receive a notice in the mail and get the money deposited on their old debit cards, Sunderland said. Those without a card will need to get a new one by calling 855-328-6715.
These extra benefits for children were set up to be paid retroactively, unlike traditional SNAP payments which are paid monthly.
OTHER FOOD AID The Oregon Food Bank, state agencies and other organizations, including churches, provide food for hungry Oregonians. For help:
Go to needfood.oregon.govFind a food pantry at foodfinder.oregonfoodbank.orgFor seniors and those with disabilities, call 855-673-2372 or go to www.adrcoforegon.orgDial 211, or text your Zip code to 898-211, www.211info.orgFor local resources, go to www.caporegon.org/find-services/
A high number of households have qualified for SNAP aid in recent years, Sunderland said, with 424,000 households or 704,000 people benefiting in September. During the pandemic, they received 70% more in their monthly allotment, with an average household receiving $450 a month. But that ended in March, and now the average SNAP benefit is about $300, not enough to stretch through the month.
“We know that many individuals and families continue to be affected by COVID-19 and the rising cost of food, and that many are experiencing hardship and are struggling to get enough healthy food for themselves and their children,” Sunderland said in a statement.
The drop in federal food aid has prompted an increase in demand at the Oregon Food Bank, which is part of a network of 21 regional banks serving 1,400 free food markets, pantries, meal sites and delivery programs.
“Demand has undoubtedly increased,” Oregon Food Bank spokesperson Morgan Dewey told the Capital Chronicle in an email.
Though the organization does not have statewide figures, Dewey said that various pantries have seen demand double since March. In the Portland area, free food markets have had up to 50% more people seeking aid.
“The rising cost of food and housing is worsening food insecurity here in Oregon and across the country,” Dewey said. “We expect over a million people to seek emergency food assistance through the Oregon Food Bank Network this year – significantly more people than we saw pre-pandemic.”
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