As SNAP Benefits Threatened by GOP, 64% Reported Struggling to Make Ends Meet and Cited Affording Food As Their Top Challenge
February 10, 2023 – ParentsTogether Action, a nonprofit family advocacy group with more than 3 million parent members, released a member survey of more than 550 primarily low- and middle-income parents about their state of financial insecurity amidst rising prices in the US, an end to the pandemic-related boost to nutrition benefits, and new discussion by Republicans in Congress about cutting additional federal food assistance.
Since the pandemic, for nearly three years, households that participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have received ‘emergency allotments’ that have provided at least $95 extra/month per household to spend on food. However, the boost in benefits will end in March of this year and millions of families will see a reduction of their monthly SNAP installment. In addition, this week it was reported that Republicans in Congress are considering new work requirements, or possible outright cuts, to federal food assistance as part of their budget negotiations in the debt limit fight.
The survey, taken between February 1 and 9, 2023, found that 64% of respondents said their family is finding it hard to make ends meet right now, citing some of their biggest challenges as affording food (64%), paying for essential parenting supplies like diapers, formula, and period products (60%), paying for utilities (57%) or housing (41%), and lack of paid leave from work (18%).
Affording food was the top challenge families said they’re facing right now with 94% of parents surveyed reporting that they were experiencing food price increases.
Price increases are impacting families to the point that 71% of those surveyed say they can no longer save for the future and 62% say that they have had to spend their savings or other money saved for emergencies. Respondents also said they can simply no longer afford enough food for their families (41%) or have had to work extra hours or get a new job in order to make ends meet (35%).
When it comes to decisions around food:
- 65% of respondents said they’ve had to change the food they buy (ie less fruits and vegetables) and/or have had to change the brands of food they buy
- 52% of respondents said they’ve used food banks or similar services
- 36% of respondents said that they’ve skipped meals so their kids can eat
When asked what policies would help them make ends meet:
- 63% of respondents said expanding access to programs to help cover the cost of groceries
- 58% said continuing Child Checks to parents of up to $300 per child per month
- 48% said free school meals for kids
- 46% said lowering the cost of essential goods like diapers, formula, and period supplies
- 29% said paid sick, parental, family leave so families don’t have to choose between caring for their families and making ends meet
“At a moment when food distribution centers are seeing increases in demand as American families struggle to feed their children, Republican lawmakers are putting families in their political crossfire by threatening to dramatically decrease spending on essential programs like SNAP. The timing of this could not be worse,” said Ailen Arreaza, Executive Director of ParentsTogether. “Further cuts to essential policies helping families to keep food on the table would be unconscionable – and those politicians responsible will pay a political price.”
Here are some of the challenges parents are facing in their own words:
“Losing more than half of our family’s SNAP benefits while the prices seem to go up every week at the market has me stressing. It was already hard to make ends meet with those benefits! I am very anxious about the amount going down next month.” – Emm, Maryland
“My husband was laid off in the winter and we applied for SNAP benefits, but they are so behind – I applied in early December and just received my interview on January 27th. [We’ve] been needing to use food shelves just to have food in the house for my kids, and we are behind on rent…” – Katherine, New York
“Both my husband and I work full time. I’ve had to work overtime to make up for the rising prices of food and utilities. My husband doesn’t get paid leave, so if something happens, we have to go without or miss a payment to the utility company.” – Amanda, Oklahoma