EL PASO COUNTY — Coloradans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, or food stamps, will soon see a significant decrease in monthly payments.
The federal government increased monthly SNAP payments to maximum allotments during the pandemic, but that extra assistance is set to end after February.
Robin Tenboer is one of over 77,000 people in El Paso County who will be affected by the shrinking benefits. She is a single mother of three and said her full-time office administrator job at a local middle school is not paying the bills. She said at the end of each month she has less than $30 left over from her paycheck.
"I skip out on breakfast and lunch most days because I just can't afford it. I can go without eating but I don't want the kids to have to do that," she said.
She said when not working she delivers meals as a driver for DoorDash and donates plasma to bring in extra money. The El Paso County Department of Human Services said families and individuals will see an average decrease of $90 per person. Karen Logan, the economic assistance director for the department, said the county is experiencing a record number of SNAP recipients.
"We know nutrition is a big deal for people to be able to be successful in our communities and when that food is impacted in that way, it really worries me about what's going to happen," she said.
Logan said with the high caseload, the department has fallen behind in processing payments to families. She said SNAP is the only assistance program where people are required to reapply every six months. Every other benefit program in the county requires individuals and families to reapply once a year. Logan said the federal government has given the department waivers to be able to bypass the normal interviews needed to reapply for SNAP benefits. She said that has allowed them to process clients faster.
"It's going to take us a little bit of time to get caught up and we are making headway. The state has offered us some help and they've helped process a few cases for us," she said.
Grocery stores and locations that take Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards will also feel the impact of decreasing benefits, according to Logan.
"Even your convenience stores are going to see an impact because they're not going to have people spending as much money in their places of business because they don't have the money to spend it," she said.
Tenboer said her family has not received SNAP payments for the past two months. After the payment decrease hits in March, her family will lose over $200 a month for food.
The El Paso County Department of Human Services says SNAP payments can roll over for up to nine months, which can help families cushion the impact of lost benefits. For housing and food resources, you can call 2-1-1 for local assistance.
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