HOUSTON - Even though SNAP benefits were increased last year, inflation is still making it hard for families to stretch those benefits across the entire month to put food on the table.
Brian Greene, President, and CEO of the Houston Food Bank, says they're continuing to see the high need for food they've seen since the pandemic started.
"On the one hand, the increase in grocery prices is impacting all the families that we serve. People talk about how that creates more strain, and they need more help. On the other hand, some of those families are seeing an increase in their wages," explained Greene.
He says their nutrition classes emphasize how to make food last longer, such as freezing foods and buying non-perishables.
"The more you’re able to do the dry products, like the dry beans, etc., that you add the liquid to, that stretches the dollars. There are cooking techniques, portioning techniques," he said.
In October, the average benefits for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, increased more than 25% above pre-pandemic levels. And Governor Abbott extended emergency SNAP benefits in Texas through February. Green says that has helped alleviate need, but need to be picked up after the Child Tax Credit payments ended in December.
"We saw the SNAP. The Child Tax Credit, of course, that expired and has not been renewed, so we saw that as an impact in people needing help," said Greene.
He says inflation can impact donations for any charitable agency, but the Food Bank's biggest need is for volunteers.
"Our greatest gap right now remains volunteers. COVID was awful for us for volunteers," he said. "We lost most of our volunteers."
If you need food or want to volunteer or donate, you can find out more through HoustonFoodBank.org.