Oregon grocery stores await surge in SNAP shoppers

Coronavirus

Stores expect an uptick in Oregonians using federal food stamp benefits starting Wednesday

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Grocery stores expect to see an uptick in shoppers this week as Oregonians receive monthly food subsidies from the state.

At a Tuesday press conference, the director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management thanked front line workers, including grocery store employees.

“It means a lot to us at the state,” said Andrew Phelps. “We know you’re doing all you can to help us with this response.”

Those workers were preparing for a surge in customer numbers starting Wednesday as people who use SNAP—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—receive their monthly deposits.

Many have even taken to social media to ask those who do not use the government food program to stay home to help prevent overcrowding at grocery stores.

Chrissy Strawn told KOIN 6 News that she benefits from SNAP and notices an uptick in shoppers around the first day of every month.

“I would say after the 8th the crowds die down enough,” she said. “As long as we don’t hoard things, they’ll be plenty for everybody.”

People who use SNAP can opt to shop online, though delivery fees will still be out-of-pocket.

“We’re going to get over this, we know that. Nothing lasts forever,” Strawn said.

Temporary changes to SNAP benefits

Due to federal changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Oregonians will have increased access to SNAP food benefits.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, the act temporarily suspends SNAP time limits for those who are required to seek work as a condition of receiving benefits. The changes begin April 1 and ends the month after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.

“As businesses and schools close because of this public health crisis, Oregonians are losing work and wages. SNAP is there to help put food on the table,” said Annie Kirschner, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Oregon. “By waiving SNAP time limits, more Oregonians can now focus on staying healthy, instead of the threat of hunger.”

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