GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
More than $87 million in food benefits are issued in Colorado every month, helping more than 250,000 households and 499,000 individuals, according to the state department of human services, and Taylor is applying for those benefits for the first time. “I live alone, and because of COVID pay is a little unstable. So, having food stamps would help me,” said Taylor Allerheiligen.
On October 1st, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or (SNAP) will see a 21% increase in benefits after the USDA reevaluated the thrifty food plan which includes factors like inflation and growing poverty levels. This cost adjustment marks the first time the plan has changed since it was introduced in 1975, according to the Colorado Department of Human Services. Michelle Trujillo with the Mesa County Department of Human Services says, “We’re expecting to see an average of $36.24 per person increase per month with this year’s cost of living adjustment.”
But, just months after the doors open to the biggest boost to snap benefits in the program’s history, could be a huge loss in benefits to thousands of Coloradans when the pandemic related increase expires December 31st closing the doors yet again. “During this pandemic, we’ve been allowing all households to receive that maximum benefit as long as they’re eligible, regardless of what their household circumstances are. So, come December 31st, we’ll just be going back to the normal calculations for allotments,” said Trujillo. Taylor says, “It might be a little troublesome if I start to depend on it, but hopefully, this allows me to get caught up enough where I’ll be fine when it goes away.”
Coloradans currently participating in SNAP don’t need to take any action and will see the new increase beginning in October, but for those not in the program struggling to feed themselves or their families, there’s hope come October. “Anybody out there who may have been ineligible for food assistance in the past, but are still struggling with food insecurity, come October 1, because the guidelines are changing, this would be a good time to reapply,” said Trujillo.
Coloradans who are experiencing hunger and are not currently participating in SNAP can apply any time at the Mesa County Department of Human Services, call Colorado’s Hunger Hotline, dial 211, or apply at the Colorado PEAK website.