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Colorado Department of Human Services Announces the End of Increased COVID-Era SNAP Benefits

By Raina Lucero

February 1, 2023

In January the Colorado Department of Human Services announced that the State of Colorado will be ending the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) emergency allotments along with other states that have been receiving these extra benefits.

Colorado SNAP households have been getting an extra amount of benefits each month since March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Colorado was approved to issue these additional SNAP benefits due to the state and federal emergency declarations that were in place during the pandemic. These extra benefits are called “emergency allotments” or “max allotments” and most households have been getting this on top of their regular SNAP benefits. These emergency allotments were authorized by Congress, but they are temporary, and we now know they will be ending in March.

Kiowa County Department of Social Services eligibility technician Kimberly Briggs informed the Kiowa County Independent, “The State has decided not to release the extra SNAP funds until the 19th of February. After the additional funds are added to your SNAP card after the 19th, no further additional funds will be added, and all eligible participants of the program will get the normal benefit amount they qualify for beginning in March.”

Though these emergency allotments are ending neither Governor Jared Polis nor President Joe Biden have ended the Emergency Powers Act first put into place in the early months of COVID. It is possible that the end of this program will have a significant impact on families, those with disabilities, and the elderly.

“There is nothing the state or counties can do to extend the emergency allotment benefits once they have ended.” Briggs states, though she and the state anticipate a large volume of calls from participants who have not budgeted their monthly income and SNAP allotment to prepare for the decrease in benefits.

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services website, SNAP households will continue to receive their regular SNAP benefits as long as they remain eligible for this program. “Your benefit amounts are based on a number of factors, including household size, income and your specific circumstances.”

“CDHS and county offices cannot continue the additional benefits once maximum allotments have ended in March, even if you appeal the action to end the additional benefits. You are able to appeal if you believe the base benefit calculation is incorrect.” states the CDHS website.

To help reduce the impact on households, families can:

Roll over unused SNAP benefits to the next month. Unused benefits can remain on EBT cards for up to nine months. This may help cushion the impact of the reduction in benefits.

Stock up on non-perishable items now, while you have the additional benefits.

Stretch food ingredients and plan to use them in more than one meal. This helps to save money and reduce food waste.

Consider freezing produce to make fruit and vegetables last longer

Look at unit prices to compare similar products at the grocery store.

You can view tips to help you and your family on the CDHS website.

Briggs also wants all SNAP participants to know that each month there are commodities available, “The next commodities distributions will be February 3rd and again March 3rd, anyone who qualifies for SNAP is able to pick up commodities. Please call us at 719-438-5541 or watch our Facebook page for updates on when and where commodities can be picked up.”

Another amazing benefit for anyone in need is, Sparrow Head Ministries who have a pantry in Lamar and a mobile pantry that comes to Sheridan Lake one time per month. Please visit their website https://sparrowhousepantry.wixsite.com/ministries/get-help to learn more about their mission as well as their services.

For additional support SNAP participants can call their local county human services office for questions about their benefits, however as Briggs and the CDHS website explains there is nothing county offices nor the CDHS can do to continue the additional benefits.

Visit https://cdhs.colorado.gov/ for more information and to help yourself prepare for the changes.

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