Speed Reads

cost-of-living crisis

Millions to face 'hunger cliff' as emergency SNAP benefits come to an end

Millions of Americans who rely on federal assistance to buy food are facing a "hunger cliff," as 32 states prepare to phase out emergency food stamp benefits in March, Insider reports. 

Over 30 million people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will be affected by the upcoming cuts, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The reductions are due to the end of emergency allotments which increased SNAP benefits at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The omnibus spending bill passed in December included a provision to end the pandemic-era emergency allotments. 

Eighteen states have already phased out the emergency food benefit allotments, citing the strengthening economy, CBS News says. But while the economy has improved as of late, many households still face a cost of living crisis driven by high grocery costs, rental prices, and utility fees. Grocery prices were 10 percent higher in December than they were the year prior, per CBS, "making the timing of the SNAP cuts particularly challenging, experts say."  For example, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the price for a dozen large eggs "saw a massive uptick from November to December," Insider summarizes.

"This hunger cliff is coming to the vast majority of states," Ellen Vollinger, the SNAP director at the Food Research & Action Center, tells CBS. On average, individuals will lose "about $82 of SNAP benefits a month," which Vollinger calls "a stunning number."

The cost of living crisis is a global concern, driven by rising food prices and high energy costs in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In the United Kingdom, the rising cost of living has led to months of strikes "by nurses, ambulance workers, train drivers, and other public-sector employees seeking higher pay," The Washington Post writes.