In A Flash

Calls for food assistance triple as pandemic SNAP benefits end

By: - March 17, 2023 9:46 am
A closeup photo of a Louisiana Purchase debit card

A Louisiana lawmaker has introduced a bill that could limit federal SNAP food assistance for certain people without jobs in an effort to curtail the state’s labor shortage. (We Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

The federal government ended the extra food assistance provided to families in need through the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of February, and now state officials say they’re hearing from people in need.

Calls to Louisiana’s 211 information line from citizens seeking food aid have tripled since the start of February, according to Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Terri Ricks. In the first week of February, the hotline totaled 211 calls for food assistance. For the week of March 8, the number reached 608.

More than 471,000 households in Louisiana receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That assistance helps feed some 953,000 people, Ricks said. 

At Thursday’s meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Women and Children, the DCFS secretary told lawmakers about one SNAP recipient who has seen her monthly benefits drop from $280 to around $20. 

Ricks said the public is urged to call 211 for information about alternative food assistance programs. SNAP recipients should also contact DCFS if they believe they are eligible for more benefits. For example, a family receiving assistance may have grown during the pandemic, or a recipient may have had a change in household income or employment that means they qualify for more food assistance.   

More information is available at the department’s SNAP website.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.