Bell County organizations ready for more calls for help after SNAP benefits reduced

Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:27 PM CST
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BELL COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - As of March, 1, 2023, Texas families will no longer receive emergency SNAP benefits from the pandemic. SNAP is a federal program that gives families in need a monthly budget to purchase groceries.

Most Texas families will see at least $95 less per month in benefits while larger families could see upwards of $400 less per month. The change eliminates the extra pandemic funds families received per month, not their entire allotment.

At the 211 Call Center at the United Way of Central Texas operators have been busy taking calls for help from across the state of Texas. Lately, they’ve been getting asked the same question time and time again.

”Every other call we’re getting is about SNAP benefits,” call center manager Diamond Martinez said. “They don’t know why they just got re-certified or they got approved then they got denied, because of the fact that the pandemic stamps are over.”

Helping Hands Ministry in Belton doubles as a food pantry and resource center to help folks in need understand and navigate federal programs like SNAP benefits.

”We have over 400 families that come see us on a weekly basis,” Crista Ochoa, director of programs and services, said. “We have seen that increase as prices have increased.”

Now that the emergency SNAP benefits have ended, Ochoa said she’s prepared to see more confused families coming in for assistance over the next few weeks.

”It has been advertised and it has been out there, but people haven’t had to renew their application over the last few years,” she said.

Meanwhile the 211 Call Center staff is focused on referring families in need to local food pantries.

”Now they’re going to have to figure out how to get their bills paid, because the money they were getting for food now has to go to electric, water and rent,” Martinez said.