State Watch

Pandemic SNAP benefits just ended. Here’s how some states are making up for it.

Photo by YUKI IWAMURA/AFP via Getty Images

Millions of Americans are scrambling to put food on the table after a pandemic-related expansion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ended earlier this month.   

SNAP households got at least $95 extra in food funds each month over the last few years as a result of legislation passed by Congress in early 2020 as food insecurity related to the pandemic began to rise 

But at least 18 states ended the pandemic-related extra allotments last year and the boost officially stopped nationwide after February SNAP funds were distributed.   

Some states are trying to help bridge the gap that the resulting cut in benefits has created by either encouraging residents to donate to food banks and pantries or through legislation to strengthen SNAP.   

Advocacy groups like the Food Research & Action Center say that the best way to improve SNAP is by increasing the program’s minimum monthly benefits — something that New Mexico lawmakers did in 2021 for all recipients and Maryland lawmakers did last year for people over the age of 62.    

As of Feb. 16, there have been at least 131 bills introduced in state legislatures across the country since the beginning of the year that are aimed specifically at strengthening SNAP programs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.   

But only a handful of state lawmakers have either passed or introduced legislation to make up for the recently cut aid by boosting overall SNAP benefits.   

Here is a breakdown of some of those pieces of legislation.   

New Jersey  

Last month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed a bill into law that allowed families enrolled in SNAP to continue to receive at least $95 each month in food assistance after March 1.   

The law increased the minimum monthly SNAP benefits households in the state could receive from $50 to $95.   

“That’s a more appropriate floor than what the federal minimum benefit is,” said Ellen Vollinger, the SNAP director at FRAC.   


The Bay State is considering legislation that would serve as an “off ramp” for the 630,000 Massachusetts households that receive SNAP as they lose their extra aid.  

Under the bill, the state would pay up to 40 percent of a household’s pandemic-era SNAP benefits for the next three months to help ease the blow of the March 1 cuts.   

The state’s House passed the bill earlier this year and now it’s up to the Senate to decide if the aid package will ever make its way to Governor Maura Healey’s (D) desk.   


California lawmakers have introduced at least half a dozen SNAP-related bills so far this session. And one bill introduced by State Sen. Caroline Menjivar (D) would boost the minimum monthly payment to $50 for those in the state’s SNAP program, CalFresh, by January 2025.  

West Virginia   

West Virginia was one of the 32 states where SNAP households saw emergency allotments vanish on March 1 after receiving them every month since April of 2020.   

State lawmakers have introduced at least five SNAP-related bills since the current legislative session began in early January, including a piece of legislation that would allow SNAP to be used at farmers’ markets.   

Another one of those bills, sponsored by Delegate Kayla Young (D), would require the state to increase monthly SNAP benefits to be “at least equal to the federal emergency allotments” for pregnant people and families with children. 


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