Mississippi soon to end pandemic-related emergency food benefits

Published 5:19 am Thursday, December 2, 2021

Since March 2020, Mississippi has been granted monthly approval by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to issue Emergency Allotments (EA) to assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households during the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing families the maximum benefits allowed based on the number of people in the household.

Issuance of Emergency Assistance, including additional temporary benefit enhancements, has substantially increased the amount of SNAP benefits households would otherwise receive under non-emergency conditions.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services anticipates providing around 1.5 billion in SNAP benefits to Mississippi residents during the calendar year 2021.

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Mississippi’s Emergency Proclamation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic expired Nov. 20, 2021. Without an emergency proclamation in place, federal regulations prevent Mississippi from issuing additional emergency benefits to SNAP recipients beginning in January 2022.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has approved time for Mississippi to transition from pandemic to non-pandemic (regular) issuance of SNAP benefits.  The month of December 2021 will be a “transition” period, serving as the final month for SNAP households to receive emergency SNAP benefits. Recipients will receive their benefits on December 2, 2021.

Beginning in January 2022, the SNAP benefit amount a household receives will be based on the usual factors in determining eligibility – household size, income, and allowable deductions – and will not be supplemented with additional emergency benefits.  Therefore, the amount of the benefit reduction will vary based on a family’s circumstances.  The estimated average monthly reduction in benefits will be $80.

To check eligibility for SNAP benefits, the SNAP pre-screening tool is accessible here: https://www.access.ms.gov/.

MDHS is working with UDSA to make the necessary changes to implement the new level of benefits and will provide additional information as the USDA makes it available.  The new level of benefits includes an increase of approximately 21% in monthly benefits, which was unrelated to the pandemic.  The 21% increase was implemented on October 1, 2021, and will stay in place even after the Emergency Allotment benefits expire next month.

To apply for SNAP, Mississippians must submit an application to the Department of Human Services office in their home county. The application is available online, or individuals may request an application by phone, in person, or by mail from their local county office.

For more information on the SNAP program, eligibility requirements, and how to apply, visit https://www.mdhs.ms.gov/economic-assistance/snap/.