NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Social Services delivered more than $33 million in Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to more than 200,000 households in the state Friday.

On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont’s office said monthly allocations of emergency SNAP benefits are going to all enrolled households based on the continuance of a declared public health emergency related to COVID in the state.

The federal allocation will provide a minimum of $95 in extra food aid to all enrolled families and individuals, according to the governor’s office, raising the state’s total emergency SNAP funding to more than $740 million since the pandemic began.

All 213,850 SNAP-eligible households statewide will receive the emergency benefits on their EBT cards on Friday. Households already eligible for the maximum monthly SNAP benefit received an extra $95.

The state says this extra money is being distributed as emergency COVID funds, but it comes during inflated costs for food. 

Jason Jakubowski, president and CEO of Connecticut Foodshare, said more families have been reliant on food pantries due to the price hikes. He said the increase in SNAP benefits could help struggling families. 

“For every meal that a food bank provides, SNAP is able to provide 9 or 10. SNAP is absolutely the first line of defense against hunger here in the United States,” he said. 

Extra SNAP money could take some of the pressure off food banks and pantries. Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven distributes over 100 dinners five nights a week. Lately, the lines of people waiting to pick up food have been getting longer. 

“Our numbers tend to go up in the summers as well because it’s warmer, it’s easier for people to get to food pantries and soup kitchens,” said Steve Werlin, executive director of Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.

Connecticut Foodshare distributes food to pantries and kitchens like Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. Since inflation rates started to spike, inventory has been up and down. A few months ago, Connecticut Foodshare was out of rice and white pasta. Now, meat is hard to come by because of its price and accessibility.  

Donations are still below pre-pandemic levels so Connecticut Foodshare has been purchasing more food than ever before. They’re preparing for a surge in need this summer as kids are home from school. 

“Things may get tight sometimes, we may not have the same variety of food that we always had, we might not always have the same amount of food we always have but we’re not going to run out of food,” Jakubowski said.

According to the governor’s office, the remaining households that do not usually qualify for the maximum monthly SNAP benefit received extra benefits of at least $95 but averaging an estimated $155.50, depending on their benefit situation.

If a household is granted regular SNAP benefits, or has a change made to their case on or after June 13, the governor’s office said additional SNAP benefits were added to the EBT card on Friday depending on the date of granting.