Food pantries feel the effect of SNAP program changes
COLUMBIA - The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri said it has seen an increase in people needing food recently.
A change in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, cut many mid-Missourians off from benefits April 1.
Before the changes, Missouri was able to offer an exception to the cutoff, which extended the benefits for up to 60 months for able-bodied adults with no children.
Now the exception is gone and the benefits have been cut back to 45 months.
Because of this, many people have to look elsewhere, such as the food bank, for help.
"Some people only use it maybe one time. There's others who may use it for several months and there's others who have used it for quite a long period of time," said food bank associate director Bobbie Kincade.
The Fulton food pantry SERVE has not seen a spike in its numbers, but the executive director Steve Mallinckrodt said that doesn't mean people aren't feeling the effects.
"It's important with the cutbacks in the SNAP program to understand that there are going to be more people struggling to have that food security," Mallinckrodt said.
The food bank recently hosted a mobile food pantry in the Indian Hills neighborhood. The pantry saw a lot of new older people signing up for benefits.
"I did ask them and the majority of them were not getting SNAP benefits, and the few that were getting SNAP benefits were getting very little money," Kincade said.
The pantry requires people to fill out a form, meet the poverty guidelines and provide photo I.D.
People that qualify can get non-perishable goods once per month. They can also get fruit and bakery items as often as every day.
SNAP benefits have much stricter qualifications, but food pantry workers say those aren't taken into consideration.
"Honestly, we're not gonna turn someone away, regardless of the guidelines. If they're in need of food, we're gonna get them some food," Mallinckrodt said.
The food bank and SERVE both said they haven't run low on food and they are still able to serve the entire community despite the change.