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Expired state COVID declaration results in $75M less food stamp aid

Jordyn Henderson

Cutting the state tax on groceries to alleviate pressures for increased costs for food is dominating the South Dakota’s governor’s race.

However, the state has skipped out on millions in additional food stamp benefits for low-income residents.

Due to the federal public health declaration for COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issues emergency food stamp allotments to states.

It also requires states to have a public health emergency declaration in place to receive these funds.

South Dakota’s state of emergency declaration expired on June 30, 2021. Since August of that year, SNAP eligible recipients have missed out on an additional $160 per month. About 35,000 households in South Dakota receive SNAP benefits.

Because of the declaration lapse, low-income South Dakotan’s have missed out on an additional $75 million dollars in benefits. The allotment has increased in the last few months due to inflation.

Both candidates for the two major political parties in the state are calling to remove the state sales tax on food. Noem estimates that would be a $100 million tax cut, which equals out to about $110 dollars per state resident per year.

Cathy Brechtelsbauer is the state coordinator for Bread for the World, a Christian group that seeks to end world hunger.

Brechtelsbauer has advocated to cut the food tax for about three decades. She’s urging lawmakers and the state to reapply for emergency allotments again.

“If we’ve recognized—which we should—the importance of getting the tax off the food and having that available in the grocery store for food, surely we should recognize the $171 dollars a month for families to have on their EBT card at the grocery store is going to make a really huge difference," Brechtelsbauer said. "So, let’s try to get that back for these families.”

The state has not responded to requests for comment.

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia continue to provide emergency allotments to SNAP families.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.