NourishNC Prepares for Potential “Hunger Cliff”
Steve McCrossan, Executive Director
At the end of this month, 10,410 New Hanover County children and their families will lose the crucial “Emergency Allotment” food benefits that have helped keep their families healthy since 2020. The Emergency Allotment provision to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was put in place to provide additional help to struggling SNAP recipients during the pandemic. “People will on average lose about $82 of SNAP benefits a month,” said Ellen Vollinger, the SNAP director at the Food Research & Action Center, an anti-hunger advocacy group. “That is a stunning number.” This means a family of 4 could lose $328 in food benefits a month! These cuts and the timing of them will certainly affect the health and well-being of our community’s kids.
“C’mon Steve, the pandemic is over, unemployment is low, and the economy is in much better shape than during the pandemic. Why does this matter?” Well, it’s an amalgamation of soaring costs across the very basics of living – housing, food, and gas. Simply put, it’s expensive to live.
ApartmentList.com states that the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Wilmington is $1,480 a month!!! Rent that high combined with low wages means that 32,083 households in NHC (34%) are “Cost Burdened” or paying more than 30% of their gross income for housing costs. This makes it hard for working families to afford other necessities. For example, according to the Wilmington Police Department’s website, they offer “a competitive starting annual salary of $38,984.40.” In this case, a new police officer would spend 45% of their pay on just rent!
If you’ve been grocery shopping, you also know that food costs are through the roof – 12% higher year-over-year with some staples like eggs soaring up to 60% higher. In the year ahead, prices are predicted to increase from 7-17% across eight major food categories like dairy, certain meats, and cereal/baking products. A small, silver lining is that some meats and fresh fruit prices are projected to decrease 1-3%.
Gas prices in Wilmington are down from the wallet busting $4.68 a gallon of regular last year but have surged again this past month back up to $3.20 a gallon. Additionally, Moody’s reports that, “Inflation raised spending by $433 a month for the average household,” according to an analysis of the October 2022 consumer price index. $433 more a month and now 10,410 children and their families in NHC are going to lose those crucial SNAP benefits. That’s a double whammy!
So, what is NourishNC going to do about it? We are going to do what we always do. What we did after Florence and what we did all through the pandemic.
Stock the shelfs with high quality food.
Spread the word about the services we offer NHC children and their families.
Enlist this community as a partner in ensuring our kids have access to nutritious food so that they can succeed in the classroom, thrive in their community, and live happy, healthy lives.
If you have children in a NHC school and need food assistance, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (910) 465-0995 Ext 102.
You can also support NourishNC and our programs by donating here.
 New Hanover County Health & Human Services, SNAP Changes. 1/31/23