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SNAP benefits to return to near pre-pandemic levels in January

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Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 5:09 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Hundreds of thousands of families in Mississippi will see their food benefits return to just above pre-pandemic levels come January 1.

The Mississippi Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that additional benefits given to recipients during the COVID-19 pandemic will be rolled back next year, less than two months after the state’s emergency declaration related to the pandemic expired.

Gov. Tate Reeves’ emergency declaration expired just before midnight on November 20, more than a year and a half after Mississippi reported its first coronavirus case.

“Without an emergency proclamation in place, federal regulations prevent Mississippi from issuing additional emergency benefits to SNAP recipients beginning in January,” a release from the agency states.

Families and individuals will still receive the additional COVID benefits for the month of December. Payments are typically made on or around the first of the month.

“Gov. Reeves, along with State Health Officer (Thomas) Dobbs and MEMA Executive Director (Stephen) McCraney, believed it was time to end Mississippi’s State of Emergency because more than 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, and COVID-19 infections and resulting hospitalizations are being effectively managed,” said Press Secretary Bailey Martin. “Additionally, Mississippi’s economy is thriving and job opportunities are plentiful.”

To date, 32 states have allowed their states of emergency to expire, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

Another 11 states are expected to have their emergencies expire later this year or early next year, while another seven have declarations in place until further notice, NASHP states.

The amount of the benefit reduction will vary based on a family’s circumstances. The estimated average cut in benefits will be around $80 a month.

A three-person household that receives $619 a month, for instance, has been receiving an additional $95 a month in emergency benefits, increasing the total amount of benefits to $714. Beginning in January 2022, that $95 will be cut out.

In all, about 207,448 households and 440,296 people receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Each house receives, on average, around $285, or around $134 per person.

MDHS is expected to provide around $1.5 billion to needy families during the 2021 calendar year.

“It’s not a full reduction back (back to pre-pandemic levels) because there was a SNAP increase in October of (25) percent,” said MDHS Chief Communications Officer Mark Jones.

Health and Human Services officials previously announced that SNAP beneficiaries would receive a 25 percent increase over their pre-pandemic benefit levels beginning October 1. The increase was in addition to the supplementary benefits that were given to households due to the outbreak.

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