Pop-up food pantries are coming to help SNAP recipients losing federal benefits
Three years after Congress funded supplemental SNAP benefits to help families put food on the table early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is ending.
"People were still getting their normal benefit the first half of the month," said Mark Dwyer, director of marketing and communications at Foodlink. "It's the second half of March when that extra benefit disappeared and so these upcoming weeks are when a lot of families locally will start feeling the loss of these benefits."
According to Foodlink, the hub of the Rochester region's emergency food network, the impact will be felt by more than 62,000 households in Monroe County alone, including over 100,000 people.
To help them cope with the transition, Foodlink and its regional partners are offering five pop-up food distribution events in Rochester starting on March 17.
Emergency Food Box Distributions:
|Friday, March 17||2-4 p.m.||Foodlink:|
2011 Mt. Read Blvd., Rochester NY 14615
|Wednesday, March 22||4-6 p.m.||Rochester Public Market:|
280 N. Union St, Rochester NY 14609
|Thursday, March 23||3-5 p.m.||Franklin High School:|
950 Norton St., Rochester NY 14621
|Saturday, March 25||10 a.m. - 12 p.m.||Monroe County DHS:|
691 St. Paul St., Rochester NY 14605
|Sunday, March 31||10 a.m. - 12 p.m.||Rochester Schools, Jefferson Campus:|
1 Edgerton Park, Rochester NY 14608
SNAP recipients must register for the drive-through distribution events, which will operate on a first come, first served basis. Those wishing to register may do so by visiting www.FoodlinkNY.org/FindFood or by calling (585) 471-7340.
Similar to the emergency meals handed out in the early months of the pandemic, the food boxes will include lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products.
While Dwyer emphasized that no food hub or meal program can offset the loss of additional benefits SNAP recipients have been accustomed to for the past three years, the pop-up events are intended to help people bridge the gap for the first couple of weeks.
On average, SNAP recipients are losing between $95 and $200 in monthly benefits.
"But if you get into situations with families with multiple children, they're going to see several hundred dollars missing from SNAP on a monthly basis going forward," Dwyer said.
When coupled with higher food prices driven by inflation, food budgets will need to be stretched even further. According to data from the second half of 2022, there was about a 30% rise in visits to food pantries served by Foodlink in a 10-county Greater Rochester region.
"It actually mirrors, if not surpasses, the initial bump we saw with COVID in 2020," Dwyer said.
Monroe County created a website, snap585.org, which offers tips for SNAP recipients to adjust to their reduced benefits.