Louisiana families who rely on federal food assistance will receive an average of $164 less per month beginning in March. That’s because emergency allotments under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will return to pre-Covid amounts. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has important information for beneficiaries on how prepare for the end of emergency allotments: 

The timeframe for preparing for the end of EAs is short. The last EA issuances will occur in February in most states, though a handful of states will not issue the February emergency allotment until sometime in March. Because this decrease will be significant and affect all SNAP households in the states that still are paying EAs, it will be important for SNAP participants and local service providers, client advocate groups, retailers, and other stakeholders who communicate with SNAP participants to be aware of the timing of the reduction in benefits and to take measures to minimize its impact on households and on state agency operations.

The loss of food benefits comes after families lost access to extra Child Tax Credit payments that expired at the end of 2021, and as the cost of food and other necessities continues to rise. 

Legislature sitting on big reserves 
The Louisiana Legislature is sitting on $106 million in reserve funding, according to the state Legislative Auditor. While the Legislature has no problem with socking away their extra funds, its members have often complained when other state agencies have tried similar measures. The Louisiana Illuminator’s Julie O’Donoghue explains how lawmakers increased their reserves last spring and how some of it was being used to defend racist congressional maps. 

The Legislature increased its own budget by $12.2 million in the current fiscal cycle. The biggest funding jump went to the Legislative Budgetary Control Council, where financing went from $8.6 million last year to $11.8 million this year. The council pays for some of the House and Senate’s joint staff and also outside, private contracts. For example, the money to hire private attorneys to defend the Republican-backed state political district maps in court comes from control council. The Legislature also said it increased its own spending in order to pay for a new 21-member security team at the Capitol.

Education Department may miss deadline to redesign FAFSA
The U.S. Education Department may miss an Oct. 1 deadline to release its redesigned Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as FAFSA. The changes to the form and funding formula were approved by Congress nearly three years ago and have already been pushed back a full year, drawing criticism from education advocates who say it will hurt students from low-income families. The Washington Post’s Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: 

A bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed to reduce the number of questions on the aid application from 108 to 36 and limit the requirements for students experiencing homelessness and those formerly in foster care to receive financial assistance. They also decided to shield more of the money that working students earn from the formula used to determine aid. The changes also ensured that more families with substantial financial need receive additional aid. Lawmakers said the revisions could enable an additional 1.7 million students to soon qualify for the maximum award each year and make an additional 555,000 newly eligible for aid.

Gentrification hits urban core 
In the 20th century white Americans left city centers and headed to the suburbs in a phenomena known as white flight. But the last decade has seen an increase in white population in hundreds of neighborhoods in cities across the country. Unfortunately, their return has changed historically Black, Asian or Hispanic neighborhoods, leaving many unrecognizable to older – and in some cases displaced – residents. The Washington Post’s Tara Bahrampour, Marissa J. Lang and Ted Mellnik examine this trend in American cities, including the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans.

“Cultural annihilation is very real here,” said Cheryl Robichaux Austin, 68, executive director of the Greater Tremé Consortium, a neighborhood-based advocacy and community equity nonprofit. “It’s slowly decaying, and we see it … every day in the neighborhood. We see it when the city has special events and we don’t see Black bands, how there are all these White folks playing in the second line now. Things you never used to see before.” … In 2000, Tremé was 93 percent Black in a city where two-thirds of the population was, too. Today, the city’s Black population has dipped to about 54 percent, according to the 2020 Census.

Number of the Day
– The decreased benefit amount for the average Louisiana household enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The monthly food benefits increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, but will return to pre-pandemic amounts in March. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)