Colorado SNAP emergency allotment benefits to end in March

Written by: Hunter Nelson
Date Posted: January 27, 2023

A pandemic-era policy that increased the amount of money for food many Coloradans received through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is now set to end in March.  

On Dec. 29, Pres. Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 into law. This $1.7 trillion, 4,155-page omnibus bill funds the federal government for the 2023-24 fiscal year. While this year’s omnibus includes many important investments that positively impact children and families, including the reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, it unfortunately ends the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Emergency Allotments (EAs). 

Pre-pandemic, the amount of SNAP benefits a household received was calculated based on several factors including work income, income from other social safety net benefits, and expenses for child care, utilities, housing, and health care. SNAP monthly allotment amounts differed based on the number of members in a household with a maximum allotment of $211 per month per additional person. 

Implemented in March 2020 as part of the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the SNAP EAs have allowed households, regardless of income and expenses, to receive the maximum SNAP benefit for their household size, with a minimum benefit amount of $95 per month. For instance, a single-person household has been receiving $280 in SNAP benefits per month since the public health emergency went into effect, with the amount increasing for each additional household member. These EAs were originally tied to the end of the public health emergency, but were decoupled from it in the omnibus bill. They are now set to end this March, with families receiving their last enhanced SNAP benefits in February. 

More than 250,000 households and 499,000 individuals in Colorado that receive SNAP benefits will see a significant reduction in the amount they receive starting in March, at a time when the cost of groceries has skyrocketed. A family of four that has been receiving $939 in monthly SNAP benefits during the pandemic will see a reduction of approximately $360. 

These reductions will have significant impacts on the food security of families. The cut-off provides little time to plan for these changes. According to our 2022 KIDS COUNT report, throughout the pandemic as many as two in five Colorado households with children reported their kids were not eating enough because food was unaffordable. Many people who are likely to lose this financial support are also at risk of losing health coverage through Medicaid – another pandemic-era policy that kept hundreds of thousands of Coloradans insured which is also set to end this spring. 

Policies such as the SNAP-EAs helped keep families fed during the pandemic. Even as pandemic-era protections unwind with the end of the official public health emergency declaration, the pandemic’s real impacts on the economic security of families will linger. The premature end of the SNAP-EAs could have serious implications for the mental health and financial stability of families and kids. 

The Colorado Department of Human Services has answers to frequently asked questions and tips for families to mitigate the impact of the SNAP-EAs ending. Find more information on their website. 

Hunter Nelson

About Hunter Nelson

Hunter works as a Policy Analyst at the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she supports the Children Campaign’s Vice President of Health Initiatives and other policy staff by assisting in the management of coalitions, maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, conducting relevant data collection and analysis, and coordinating policy advocacy strategies with other Children’s Campaign staff. Before coming to the Children’s Campaign, Hunter served as the Volunteer and Data Specialist for Child Advocates – Denver CASA, interned with the Bell Policy Center, and worked as a research assistant at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. She has also worked with multiple organizations serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness across Metro Denver. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Arizona State University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver.