These 13 States Will Extend Emergency Food Benefit Payments Through December

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  • Just 13 states have confirmed emergency benefits for December, compared to 35 in November.
  • The emergency allotments mean households can receive the maximum amount for their size, and those already receiving the maximum receive an additional $95
  • It isn't clear how far into 2023 the additional food benefit payments will continue. It depends on decisions made at a federal and state level.

Some states continue to pay out emergency SNAP benefits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been a lifeline for many families in recent years. It provides low-income families with food benefits that they can put toward fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products, and other staples.

During the pandemic, the government allowed states to make extra payments in the form of emergency SNAP allocations. These mean that each qualifying household can receive the maximum monthly payment -- currently $939 for a family of four in most states. Families who already receive the maximum amount get an extra $95.

With Christmas on the horizon, that extra money can make a big difference to recipient households' bank balances. Unfortunately, while more than 35 states made emergency payments in November, only 13 have confirmed the extra payments for December.

These 13 states will pay emergency food benefits in December

According to the USDA, the following states will extend the emergency food payments into December 2022:

  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Thanksgiving may have delayed a couple of announcements, so a few more states may still continue to pay emergency allotments in December. This list was correct as of Nov. 28.

How much longer will emergency benefits last?

The emergency SNAP allocations are tied to the federal public health emergency. It was first introduced in January 2020 and has been extended every 90 days since then. The last extension was announced on Oct. 13, but it isn't clear what will happen next year.

The Department of Health and Human Services previously stated it would give 60 days' notice before terminating the health emergency. Given that we're now at the end of November and no notice has been given, the health emergency and associated emergency benefits is unlikely to be over before the end of January 2023.

Individual states also play a part as SNAP is administered at a local level. Each state decides on whether it will extend the extra payments on a month-by-month basis. This month, fewer states have announced extensions.

What to do if you can't afford food in December

The holiday season always puts extra pressure on household finances, and this is especially true if your state has stopped issuing extra SNAP payments. If you don't have enough money in your checking account to feed your family, call United Way on 2-1-1 to find out what help is available in your area. You may be able to get help from a local food pantry or soup kitchen, and you may qualify for additional assistance with food or other bills.

Here are some ways to make your SNAP payment go further:

  • Look for double-up programs: Several states operate schemes such as Double Up Food Bucks and other Double Dollar programs that match every dollar you spend on fruit and veg at participating stores and food markets.
  • Maximize rewards on your spending: You don't have to have a rewards credit card to earn money back on your everyday spending. Several cash back apps work with SNAP EBT payment cards, so check for deals before you go to the store. Once you've shopped, you'll need to scan the receipts.
  • Always shop with a list: Grocery lists can save you time and money. They help you benefit from specific cash back app promotions and are a good way to avoid impulse purchases. Plus, you won't have to go to the store as often and trips you do make will be much quicker.
  • Search for discounts: Whether it's coupons, in-store offers, or other specials, discounts make a big difference. Look for offers on expensive items such as detergent and meat. Use sites like the Krazy Coupon Lady to find the best deals on products you need.
  • Buy in bulk: Buying in bulk can generate decent savings, but it isn't always practical when you're on a tight budget. Try teaming up with a neighbor or family member and splitting the purchase. That way you both benefit from bulk savings without having to spend lots of money upfront.

Bottom line

Fewer states are offering the emergency allotments and the extra payments may wind down completely at some point in 2023. This means that many households could find they receive less money for food. SNAP recipients are likely already used to stretching their food budgets. If you don't already use the tricks above, perhaps they could help your food dollars go a little further.

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