Ohio Food Banks Overwhelmed after Emergency SNAP Benefits End

By Nadia Ramlagan
Ohio News Connection

One year after emergency SNAP benefits ended, Ohio food banks are struggling with increased grocery costs and record-high numbers of families turning to food pantries for help.

Since the start of the pandemic, households had been receiving on average $90 more per person, per month in SNAP benefits.

Joree Novotny, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said Ohioans lost $126 million between March 2024 and March 2023, when the expanded benefits expired. She said food banks now are overwhelmed trying to meet the needs of families facing pressure from inflation, resumed student loan payments and higher costs for utilities and rent.

“They have been turning to us, for month over month, for more than a year, at a level that we’ve never experienced before,” Novotny said. “That is very difficult for us to continue to sustain.”

From April through September of last year, pantries served about 1.3 million people per month, up 60% from before the pandemic.

According to an Ohio Association of Foodbanks survey, more than 3 in 4 SNAP households said since the end of expanded SNAP, their household’s food benefits are completely used up within the first two weeks of the month.

The Farm Bill, a package of legislation to reauthorize most of the nation’s agriculture and nutrition programs, including SNAP, expired last fall. Congress has yet to pass a new version. Novotny said advocates are pushing for a SNAP program in the next Farm Bill, flexible and robust enough to help keep families afloat, along with the farmers who depend on the bill’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, and a strong Emergency Food Assistance Program.

“We can’t absorb any more losses in SNAP benefits,” Novotny said. “We need, first and foremost, a really strong SNAP program protected in this Farm Bill.”

According to a recent survey, 90% of respondents said their basic monthly food purchases cost more now than a year ago. The number of people who said they skipped meals, ate less or relied on family and friends for food in the past month rose between 2% and 4%.

Pictured at top: According to a January Household Pulse Survey, 90% of respondents reported their basic monthly food purchases cost more now than a year ago. (Adobe Stock)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.