CLEVELAND (WJW) – It’s called the ‘COVID cliff.’ That’s when federal public health emergency dollars that were flowing to the states at the height of the pandemic stop.

That includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP for short. Just under 1.5 million Ohioans, about 12% of the state, are now eligible.

In July, many families will see their benefits cut or stop completely. That means food banks can expect more visitors.

“In a time where it felt like we were at a point where people were going to get back on their feet and with this COVID cliff and these benefits ending, there is the concern that, do we have the resources? Do we have what we need fill those gaps that are coming?” Akron-Canton Food Bank Development Director Colleen Benson said.

Even with things going down some, the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank and its partners still provide food to more than 100,000 people a month in the eight counties that they serve.

The federal government has also cut back on the amount of fresh food that it gives to food banks, so they now must buy more.

That means inflation is taking a toll on how much they can buy to make up that gap.

“Meat is up 52% per pound, of course fuel costs for our fleet is up 32% for the first month of this year,” Benson said.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is facing a lot of the same problems. The lines aren’t as long as they were at the Muni Lot a year ago, but as people lose their SNAP benefits or see them cut, their numbers could go back up to what they were during the height of the pandemic.

They say they’ll do their best to pick up the slack and, like all food banks, will need the public to continue to support their neighbors in need.

“We’re going to truly rely on our community when the time comes and people lose their SNAP benefits to help us make sure people have the resources that they need… We can make a dollar make three meals so we always encourage folks that if you’re able to donate, please do so because we can make those dollars stretch” Cleveland Food Bank Outreach Director Kimberly LoVano said.

LoVano says they’re very concerned about seniors who could suffer some of the most drastic cuts.  

LoVano says food banks are encouraging seniors and others, if SNAP benefits are cut in July, to reach out for food assistance. That’s what they’re here to do.

Here’s more information about the Cleveland or Akron-Canton food bank.