Families and individuals who are in financial need can supplement their grocery budgets with funds via electronic benefits transfer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offered extra emergency allocations to SNAP recipients in the early days of the pandemic. Some states have already eliminated these extra payments, and they will be ending nationwide in January. People who receive both SNAP or Social Security may have seen their food benefits decrease due to the January cost of living rise in Social Security payments.

Vince Hall, chief government affairs officer at Feeding America said in an email, that the end of the extra assistance would reduce food purchasing power by nearly $3 billion per year.

Even more difficult will be the budgeting of those who rely on SNAP food benefits such as seniors, disabled people, and families with children.

Between sticker shock at grocery stores due to increasing prices , and recent changes to SNAP benefits it is important for households that rely on SNAP get the most from their budget.

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5 ways you can stretch your SNAP benefits

These are some tips to help you make the most out of your food budget in difficult times .

1. Purchase staple foods in bulk

You can maximize your monthly SNAP benefits by stocking up on staple food items. Many pantry staples can also be used as a base to make cost-effective, satiating meals.

Gabriel Lalonde, certified financial planner, said via email that staple foods such as pasta, beans, and rice can be inexpensive and nutritious. He also suggested that you consider buying in bulk to save even more money. To save even more money .”

2. Shop at farmers markets

Double Up Food Bucks allows you to shop at local farmers markets and double your SNAP food benefits. To see if your state is one of the participating states, visit the website. Double Up Food Bucks allows SNAP recipients to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a higher price by matching their benefits at participating grocery stores and markets.

Lalonde stated that farmers markets are a great way for SNAP to be used. They often have fresh produce at lower prices than at grocery stores. “Buying in-season produce is more affordable and healthier than purchasing out-of-season produce .”

3. Coupons and discounts are available

Coupons can help you cut down on grocery expenses. Even if you save a little, it can make a big difference.

“Be on the lookout for coupons and discounts, which are often available at many grocery stores, ” Andrew Lokenauth, founder of BeFluentinFinance.com, said by email. Special deals and loyalty programs can help lower the cost of groceries.

Shop Simple, a tool offered by the USDA’s MyPlate App, may help you save. Jairea McClamb, spokesperson for USDA, stated in an email that “The Shop Simple tool with MyPlate helps people find savings and discover new methods to prepare budget-friendly food.”

4. Learn if you are eligible for other assistance programs

Seniors can also receive a monthly food package containing nutritious foods from the USDA through the Commodity Supplemental Fee Program.

Even if your income is not high enough to qualify, even if you’re not a senior, there may be additional federal or local programs that can help you with food. It’s worthwhile to research. 16 nutrition assistance programs are offered by the USDA.

McClamb also mentioned The Hunger Hotline which connects people to emergency food providers in their locality, as well government assistance programs, and social services. Call 866-348-6479 or 866-348-6479.

5. Plan your meals

Planning your meals can make your SNAP dollars go further, especially if you include staple foods.

Lokenauth stated that planning ahead can help you allocate your SNAP benefits more efficiently. Making a grocery list and purchasing in bulk can help you save money, minimize food waste, and make the most of your ingredients span>

Looking for meal ideas using SNAP-eligible food? There are many recipes available on the USDA website, including seasonal. Leanne Brown has also published a cookbook called “Good and Cheap”, which features low-cost recipes that are aimed at people who receive SNAP benefits. The cookbook is available online in English and Spanish.

Lokenauth points out that cooking with seasonal produce can help you save money and still make healthy, budget-friendly meals.

Resources for Other Essentials

These are additional resources that may help you if you’re having trouble paying for food or other necessities.

  • Call 211 to search for assistance or for information at , which can connect you with programs that support food, mental health, and other services.

  • Find local food banks and meal program providers in your area. Feeding America can help you locate food banks in your area that will also assist you with applying for national programs.