Getting ready for the rush

For the nonprofit Humanity House, the end of pandemic-related benefits means seeing more and more people in need of help, especially with food assistance.

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June 17, 2021 - 10:08 AM

From left, Joannia Stinnett, Georgia Masterson, Tracy Keagle and Ginny Spurling, seated, of Humanity House, are preparing for a rush of people needing help now that the Kansas disaster declaration has ended. (REGISTER/TREVOR HOAG)

Tracy Keagle is stressed out.

That’s because the Kansas COVID-19 disaster declaration has ended, which in turn means the end of pandemic benefits.

For the nonprofit Humanity House, which Keagle directs, that means seeing more and more people in need of help, especially with food assistance.

“The Kansas legislators dumped all the COVID pandemic extras. It’s all over,” she said.

“What it means is we’re screwed,” even with existing food stockpiles.

KEAGLE broke the situation down as follows:

“Say you’re working, and you have four people in your family. During the pandemic, your SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits may have changed by $100 a month.”

“They might have given you $750 per month, up from $600 or so,” Keagle said.

“Families that were working had this extra money to feed themselves, which is why our pantry wasn’t being utilized as much, except by people who’d signed up for food assistance or were in a crunch.”

“Families that were working had this extra money to feed themselves, which is why our pantry wasn’t being utilized as much, except by people who’d signed up for food assistance or were in a crunch.”

“And because they had extra SNAP dollars … they could use that money to get 

“There were 120 to 180 boxes of food we gave away, … but they stopped that,” she said. “And it’s right when kids are out of school.”

ALTHOUGH she and Humanity House staff are working harder than ever, “it’s just going to get worse,” Keagle said.

“What I don’t understand,” she added, “is that for every SNAP dollar that’s spent, about double that goes back into the economy.”

Not only that, “but that extra benefit gave people enough money so that our pantry wasn’t utilized by the normal number of people. They had money so they didn’t come here.”

Keagle pointed out that “there’s this misconception that a food pantry is a crutch, but it isn’t. [The pandemic] showed us that people don’t use it if they don’t need it.”

Keagle then pointed out that “there’s this misconception that a food pantry is a crutch, but it isn’t. [The pandemic] showed us that people don’t use it if they don’t need it.”

She then observed that “it’s too bad that during COVID they didn’t keep track of how many people were able to go to their jobs because they had that assistance, but there’s no way of tracking it.”

AS FOR what Keagle plans to do in response to the situation, “I’m in the garden going, ‘I’m growing it as fast as I can!’”

Why?

“It’s terrible,” she said, “because the thing people don’t buy when their SNAP benefits are cut is vegetables.”

Indeed, “the garden really is important,” emphasized Keagle. “Last year we had 10,000 lbs. we gave to people.”

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