SNAP benefits increase is helping food pantries deal with high demand

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Starting on October 1st, the U.S Department of Agriculture will be increasing SNAP benefits by 27%. 

According to the Division Administrator for Adult, Children, and Family Services for the Iowa Department of Human Services, Janee Harvey, this increase translates to an additional $116 million in SNAP benefits. 

“What we expect to see in October is 140,000 households will be seeing this increased SNAP assistance. That translates into 285,000 individuals, and 119,000 children in Iowa will be receiving increased food assistance beginning next month,” Harvey said. 

According to the USDA, a temporary 15% increase in SNAP benefits was set to expire on September 30th. This worried local food pantry, Des Moines Area Religious Council. 

The Des Moines Area Religious Council operates 14 food pantries, a mobile pantry, and two food warehouses. 

Prior to the pandemic,  a little over 50% of people who were coming to DMARC pantries were also on food stamps. However, since the federal increase in SNAP benefits, that number has dropped by 20%.

CEO of DMARC Matt Unger said with more people receiving government assistance, it allows them to better prepare for the future with November being their busiest month.

“With the things that have been happening in the food supply chain, it’s taking us a lot longer to get our food orders in,” Unger said. “So being able to have a little bit of leeway with knowing that folks have a lot of their needs covered through SNAP has been helpful.” 

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