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Extra SNAP benefits set to expire on April 15 in North Carolina

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Many people on food stamps in North Carolina will see their monthly allotments decrease as their extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program pandemic benefits run out on April 15.

The benefits were increased under the American Rescue Plan, which allowed states like North Carolina to waive certain eligibility requirements and give households the maximum amount for their household size, even if their income might traditionally qualify them for fewer SNAP dollars, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those extra benefits will vanish on April 15 unless Congress passes a last - minute extension . Tina Postel, executive director of the Charlotte-based Loaves and Fishes food pantry network, says demand for food banks and food pantries will likely go up as a result.

"It won't surprise me if we see a 5 to 7% increase in the next month or two, simply based on these benefits expiring," Postel said.

It comes as many food banks are already feeling strained by rising food and gas prices. Postel said many items like peanut butter and ground turkey have become significantly more expensive, and some older volunteers on fixed incomes have had to scale back the number of food deliveries they can make because of the high cost of gas.

Demand on food banks statewide remains elevated compared to before the pandemic, according to Mike Darrow, executive director of the Feeding the Carolina food bank network.

Darrow said demand remain s especially high in rural, low-income areas near the mountains and the coast and that many school and workplace food drives that went away during the pandemic still haven't returned.

Still, Darrow said he expect s food banks and pantries to make it through the next few months regardless of the challenges they're experiencing.

"Our food banks are a resilient group, and we're determined to feed as many of our friends and neighbors in North Carolina as we possibly can," he said.

More than 1.7 million North Carolinians were receiving SNAP benefits in December 2021, representing a 19% increase from the year before. Nationally, more than 41 million people received SNAP benefits in fiscal year 2022.

Copyright 2022 WFAE. To see more, visit WFAE.

WFAE's Nick de la Canal can be heard on public radio airwaves across the Charlotte region, bringing listeners the latest in local and regional news updates. He's been a part of the WFAE newsroom since 2013, when he began as an intern. His reporting helped the station earn an Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage following the Keith Scott shooting and protests in September 2016. More recently, he's been reporting on food, culture, transportation, immigration, and even the paranormal on the FAQ City podcast. He grew up in Charlotte, graduated from Myers Park High, and received his degree in journalism from Emerson College in Boston. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal