CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits are changing for those who rely on food stamps at the grocery store, but the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank wants people to know it's here to help.

The Charlottesville Department of Social Services announced on Monday that the temporary boost to SNAP benefits, otherwise known as emergency allotments, will end next month. These allotments were giving households the maximum benefits for their size and were put in place during the pandemic.

However, people don't have to panic to put food on the table for their families. BRAFB has locations in 25 counties and eight cities. Each month, it serves roughly 109,000 individuals.

Just last year, the food bank distributed 20.8 million meals and it is expecting to see an increased number of people in need this year, as SNAP benefits get a $265 cut.

"We do have plenty of food for everybody. We have enough, but we've also anticipated something like this when we knew that the public health emergency would end, and now we know that it will end. What we could anticipate is just more folks whose SNAP benefits are running out. And again, who still need to eat and still need to fill their pantries. And we can fill that gap,” the director of programs at BRAFB, Zach Nissen said.

Even people who cannot get to one of BRAFB's partner locations can get help thanks to the food bank working with other organizations.

"Again, if you or your family needs emergency food. If you need help getting groceries in your household. We've got partner agencies, or mobile food pantries, nearby hopefully where you are. You can visit them, no questions asked. Just show up,” Nissen said.

According to a 2018 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, more than 736,000 people rely on SNAP in Virginia. During that year, a little more than $1 billion in SNAP benefits were disbursed.

Virginia is above the national average for both the amount of SNAP benefits used and the number of households with children who depend on SNAP. In the Fifth Congressional District, nine percent of households receive SNAP, which means more than 26,000 families are now going to have to work under a tighter budget.

SNAP benefits will drop from $281 to $16. The last emergency allotment will be distributed on Feb. 16.

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