Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

By Bridget Doherty

Hamilton County Commissioners voted last week to give $2 million to the Freestore Foodbank to help offset the increased demand for food assistance expected when extra federal pandemic SNAP money stops after next month.

SNAP recipients have received larger monthly allotments as part of emergency pandemic recovery efforts. Due to federal policy, those extra amounts will end after February. More than 52,000 families in Hamilton County have been receiving the extra money, totaling more than $12 million each month.

“This is the wrong time to make cuts as inflation impacts the cost of the basic necessity of food for families,” said Commission President Alicia Reece. “This is why our Board is taking emergency action to add $2 million to the Freestore Foodbank in addition to launching the 513Relief Bus next week.”

“We know it’s going to be difficult for some Hamilton County residents to put food on the table when these emergency allotments go away,” said Commissioner Denise Driehaus. “This is one way we can help these families get through this transition.”

“I’m deeply concerned about our citizens especially our children and seniors,” said Commissioner Summerow Dumas. “We moved expeditiously and strategically with these federal funds.”

“With the emergency allotments going away and food prices continuing to increase, we are starting to already see more families who need help putting food on the table. These funds will directly and immediately help impacted families. We are thankful the Hamilton Commissioners acted quickly to help those in need,” said Kurt Reiber, President/CEO of Freestore Foodbank.

The emergency allotment raised all SNAP households to the maximum allotment for their household. If a family was already receiving the maximum benefit, they received an additional $95 per month.

The Freestore Foodbank is the region’s largest emergency food provider to children and families, distributing more than 37 million meals each year to low-income individuals and families. The Freestore works with roughly 600 food pantries.

The county money will come from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, established as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

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