GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The return to pre-pandemic food assistance levels started March 1, and more than 700,000 Wisconsinites will feel the impact.

The V.P. of Government and Community Relations for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin told Local 5 news that the elderly and disabled will be hurt the most.

“Seniors and people with disabilities are going to be hit the hardest,” Maureen Fitzgerald said in a zoom interview Wednesday afternoon, “Where they were seeing $300 a month, they’re going to see their benefits go down to about $23 a month.”

Fitzgerald says the emergency program would give qualified individuals would their pre-pandemic FoodShare benefit at the beginning of the month. Then, they would see the pandemic-related emergency enhancement at the end of the month.

“This helped them budget. Stretch the dollar,” explained Fitzgerald. “It actually helped grocery stores plan for people. They were able to plan. We didn’t see an influx at the end of the month with people at the pantries.”

Feeding America is now getting ready for requests from pantries that anticipate a huge influx of people over the next few weeks.

To help offset costs, experts recommend reaching out to your state Human Services Agency and claiming all allowable deductions.

They’re also suggesting families look into the Women, Infants, and Children program of WIC.

Advocates say it’s an underutilized program that SNAP recipients are automatically qualified to use.

Fitzgerald said in addition to the cuts in federal money, Wisconsin will also see special, pandemic-related state funding to pantries end in June. “We’re expecting a lot more people to be struggling and a lot more food pantries struggling.”