CLEVELAND, Ohio — Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of Northeast Ohioans have been relying on the extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments to help cover the cost of groceries.
"It was a real relief and it was a real help," said SNAP recipient Limey from Cleveland.
Beginning on March 1, those additional payments will stop and SNAP recipients will return to their normal payments.
"To cut it off now with the prices of food, I don't understand," Limey said.
Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services director Kevin Gowan said this will impact over 200,000 people in the county for a total of roughly $20 million a month.
"A lot of people are going to turn to the food banks. A lot of people are still wondering where they're going to turn to, it's going to be a very big impact to the community," Gowan said.
Summit County Executive Assistant Chief of Staff and Communications Director Greta Johnson said 78,000 people will lose the extra benefits for a total of $7.6 million monthly. She said senior citizens will be hit the hardest in Summit County.
"They've been receiving an additional $258 per month, so when you start to rely on that over the course of several years now it will require a lot of folks to readjust their budgeting for sure," Johnson said.
The additional payment ranged from $95 to a few hundred extra dollars per household and was temporary to help during the pandemic.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced there's been a delay in February payments; the last emergency allotment that people will receive.
"Once you get a budget and then you become accustomed to it and now you have to change. So its fear setting in, like 'oh my God, what am I going to do to supplement this income?'" Limey said.
As many worry about what's next when the payments stop.
"Fortunately for me, I have other sources of income. But what about the people that don't?" Limey said.
If you're a SNAP recipient you can check how your payments will change on the Ohio benefits website.