MILWAUKEE — People getting additional pandemic-related FoodShare payments will no longer receive them effective March 1.
During the pandemic, eligible participants of the FoodShare assistance program were getting at least an additional $95 a month on top of their regular benefits.
The end of this assistance program is expected to create an increased demand for local food banks.
El-Bethel Church of God in Christ is one of many food pantries that are gearing up for more people to visit starting in March.
Tara Kinlow is a volunteer who works with community members that come in each week. She’s seen how inflation has impacted the cost of food at the grocery store.
“You go to the store now with $100 and you don’t get nearly as much as you used to get,” said Kinlow.
El-Bethel's food pantry serves families from any zip code in Milwaukee County.
“We help everywhere,” said Kinlow. “No matter what creed, what color, what ethnic background. You come in and we help you.”
Pantry coordinator Maurice Allen said they serve a wide demographic, but their biggest customer base is the senior population.
“A lot of our seniors will suffer in particular because they depend on those food stamps,” said Allen. “It makes a difference.”
Allen said as a senior himself, he understands the struggle of having a limited income and how it can force you to decide between essentials like out-of- pocket expenses for food or medication.
“A lot of people suffer in silence,” he said. “We’re here. We’re a non-judgmental zone. If you need food, you can come here.”
The food pantry works in partnership with Feeding America. It’s open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
“We want the community to know that we care about what’s happening and we’re trying to make a difference,” said Allen.
Kinslow said the need for food already spiked because of inflation. She said the end of these FoodShare benefits will cause more people to rely on outside assistance.
Regardless of the situation, she said she wants people to know they can find care and help at El-Bethel.
“If you’re in need, don’t feel like you can’t call the church or just knock on the door,” she said. “Just let us know and we’re here to help you.”
If you need help finding a local food pantry, you can call 211.