Families across the country, state and Northern Michigan may find it harder to pay for groceries.
The extra pandemic-era food benefits are now out of the picture.
The added SNAP benefits were estimated to have kept 4.2 million Americans out of poverty.
They’ll now be forced to turn to food pantries already struggling as the boost in benefits ends.
“The need is increasing. We’re decreasing our resources and increasing our patronage. We’ve got to find a balance,” said Mary Hill, Volunteer at the Roscommon County Food Pantry.
The Roscommon County Food Pantry says more people need help keeping their cupboards and refrigerators full.
“Our numbers have jumped 150% in May, we supported 182 families. November of 2022, we supported 471 families. It’s steadily going up,” explained Chris Ashcraft, Executive Director of the Roscommon Food Pantry.
Now many families receiving SNAP benefits will see their monthly benefits cut anywhere from $95.00 to $250 per month, taking away that boost in place in the early days of the pandemic.
“Sadly, it is what it is with the government. You know what’s going to happen when something is added to a program at some point. It is probably going to be taken away. So we’re prepared for it. We’re going to do the best we can,” said Ashcraft.
The cut also comes at a time when food pantries are struggling to keep their shelves stocked.
“We used to buy hamburger from the food bank, and they can’t get it. We have partnered with a butcher in town at Lakehouse Meat and Deli, and they’ve been providing us with Burger so that we can at least keep our families getting at least Burger,” explained Ashcraft. “We’ve had venison donated to us this year. It is a big help because we’re very rural, and people love venison.”
“We used to give out a dozen eggs to every household, and when the egg prices skyrocketed, we started cutting down to six eggs per family,” said Hill.
Despite the challenges, local food pantries say they’ll do whatever they can to help people get food on the table.
“Small-town people come together, and they support each other. They understand because, to some point, they may or may not be in the same position,” said Ashcraft.
The Roscommon County Food Pantry is always accepting donations.
Items that go a long way include canned vegetables, tuna and powdered potatoes.