ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The end of COVID-era Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are turning up the pressure on local food banks.

The extra benefits started when the pandemic hit to supplement the millions who were out of a job. Each person in the SNAP program will see a decrease between $95-250 a month.

On Wednesday, volunteers were helping out at the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Winnebago Community Market, off Kishwaukee Street near the Chicago Rockford International Airport.

About a dozen faith leaders from the area were packing food boxes. More help is needed, they said.

Staff said the food bank helps feed 5,500 individuals every month in Winnebago County.

Last year, that number was 4,400.

“With the SNAP allocation, the extra emergency one dropping off, that number is going to rise more and we’re trying to prepare for that, trying to get as much food to stock these shelves as possible,” said the Northern Illinois Food Bank’s Courtney Oakes. “We’ve also seen a drop in donations this year, with inflation and all the freight and shipping and shortages. So, just trying to get enough food in here to make sure we can help these families when they show up is key.”

In 2022, Northern Illinois Food Bank provided nearly nine million meals in Winnebago County.