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Iowans to see end of extra SNAP benefits tied to the pandemic

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Iowans receiving support through SNAP will see their benefits reduced in April as pandemic-era changes expire.

Iowans who receive support through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will see a reduction in their benefits starting today.

April 1 marks the first day Iowans will no longer receive extra benefits that were tied to COVID-19 pandemic funding.

The reduction is part of the end of Gov. Kim Reynolds' public health disaster emergency proclamation and could result in individuals losing as much as $230 a month in benefits, according to the Iowa Hunger Coalition.

Des Moines resident Tara Kramer said her benefits will be reduced from $250 a month to $20.

The reduction has left Kramer recalculating her budget and questioning how she will afford monthly groceries and medical care.

"I have a dynamic disability. So I go to the doctor a lot," she said. "And I am not going to be able to continue with physical therapy, because I won't be able to afford those co-pays."

Kramer said her medical conditions require her to eat a selective diet. She said the extra benefits allowed her to buy the special foods she needs to better control her symptoms.

"Prior to the pandemic, I wasn't getting proper nutrition. My numbers were all off at the doctor's office," she said. "And I was able to get on top of so many different symptoms with my health in just being able to eat more clean."

According to state data, more than 287,000 individual Iowans and more than 141,000 households receive SNAP benefits.

On average, Iowa households receive $475 a month in benefits. In 2019, that average monthly amount was $227.

Iowa City resident Cecelia Proffit said her family of four expects a reduction of around $250 a month with the change.

The extra benefits during the pandemic allowed Proffit to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables for her young children — and special extras like ice cream sandwiches for her daughter's second birthday.

"You don't have to make every single decision based on maximum, you know, calories per dollar or whatever. So it's just nice and it's less stressful," she said.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter