South Carolina Extends Pandemic Food Assistance Benefits

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolinians receiving federal food aid will continue to get extra emergency benefits through the end of the year, even though a pandemic-related state of emergency ended last month.

State officials announced Friday that they were extending the deadline for the additional federal supplements, which were set to expire Aug. 1 after Gov. Henry McMaster brought the state's COVID-19 state of emergency to an end in June.

The Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program serves 610,000 people in about 295,000 households in South Carolina. On average, each household has received an additional $177 per month in emergency supplements throughout the pandemic.

McMaster has authorized the state’s Department of Social Services to ensure South Carolinians continue receiving the extra benefits until December 31 or the end of a federal public health emergency order, whichever comes first.

“Our moral and ethical duty during the COVID-19 pandemic is to protect the lives of the most vulnerable South Carolinians — our elderly, young and at-risk population," wrote Gov. Henry McMaster in a letter to the state's Department of Social Services.

The social services agency received approval Thursday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing the emergency benefits.