Report suggests SNAP benefits aren't enough to cover average mea - - Jackson, MS

Report suggests SNAP benefits aren't enough to cover average meal costs

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Thousands of Mississippians rely on SNAP or food stamps to get by each month, but a new report examines whether it's really enough to sustain them.

The report was released by the Urban Institute and it shows the varying gaps between food stamp money and meal costs.

Click through the interactive map and you'll find that food stamp money doesn't cover the average cost of a meal in any Mississippi county. That's something the Mississippi Food Network has found to be true through the years.

"A lot of people that we know by the time the third week rolls around, they've run out of food, they run out of money, they run out of snap benefits," described Mississippi Food Network Director of External Affairs Marilyn Blackledge. "They need help. So they go visit a pantry and get a box of food."

Mississippi Food Network is a food bank that provides items for food pantries in 56 counties through the state. Those pantries now know that SNAP recipients are needing help part of the way through the month.

"That's the way the system is set up. It's not set up for people to just use this as your grocery store," noted Blackledge. "It's set up to be your emergency food box."

The Urban Institute found the average cost of a low-income meal is $2.36, but that the maximum SNAP benefit per meal is only $1.86. That price varies by county.

"Holmes County is a prime example," said Blackledge. "They have one of the highest poverty rates and they have one of the highest per mill costs. That has to do with food deserts and different things like that."

But folks at the Mississippi Food Network are happy to be able to step in and fill the gaps.

"We make sure that nobody's going food insecure or hungry if they need help," added Blackledge.

To view the Urban Institute's interactive map, click here. And to view Feeding America's annual Map the Meal Gap data, click here.

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