The New Mexico Human Services Department announced Jan. 19 that extra Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are coming to an end in February.

“This will impact over half a million New Mexicans,” Cabinet Secretary for the Health and Human Services Department Dr. David Scrase said.

New Mexicans currently have 23.6% of the population’s SNAP participants. In Sandoval County, 26,535 people use SNAP.

Scrase stressed that SNAP is still available but the emergency funds given during COVID will go away, adding that the SNAP benefit drop — 30% for an average family — will impact each individual and family differently.

He shared an example that a family of four receiving $969 per month in SNAP benefits will drop down to $720 per month. He also used an individual example where the person who gets $376 per month and will drop to $281 per month.

The main concern, though, is the well-being of children in New Mexico.

According to an Economic Well-Being study done by New Mexico Kids Count, Rio Rancho Public Schools has the second-highest enrollment of students for free or reduced-price meals at a total of 17,342 children. Sandoval County ranks third for child food insecurity and fifth for households receiving SNAP benefits.

Sherry Hooper, executive director of the Santa Fe Food Depot, says there are a few programs that SNAP recipients can still qualify for: The Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

“The TEFAP covers all 33 counties in NM,” she said.

Additionally, the department wants to make sure people know, as part of the change, they have to renew SNAP benefits online rather than receiving automatic continuing benefits.