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Emergency food assistance ending in February may mean less for families, local farms

People using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will have less to spend on food when a COVID-related bump in payments ends in March.

The aid, part of a federal COVID relief package, allowed SNAP beneficiaries to get at least $95 in additional assistance each month. The reduction in benefits were part of a government funding deal signed by President Biden at the end of last year.

Reduced benefits could lead to lower revenues for local growers, which have seen increased SNAP spending at farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs since the start of the pandemic, according to Zoey Sloate, program manager at Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, a nonprofit based in South Deerfield.

"I do think that farms are going to be concerned and I do think that it'll impact their sales," Sloate said. "It'll mean that people aren't going there. They'll be stretching their budgets other places."

Sloate expects farmers to plant fewer crops in the spring as a result of the change.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, SNAP Emergency Allotments allowed households to receive the maximum benefit amount since March 2020. That has resulted in over $95 million federal funds flowing into the state every month.

The last emergency allotment payment will be issued on March 2.

With reporting from Morning Edition's Dan Guzman.

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