Urge USDA Secretary to Extend Child Nutrition Waivers
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue says he won't use his authority to extend the child nutrition waivers, which are desperately needed to ensure that children who rely on free and reduced-price school meals still get the nutrition they need while schools are shuttered or have schedules that include both remote and in-classroom learning. National, state, and community-based organizations and elected officials on both sides of the aisle agree that we need to make sure all children, no matter where they live or learn, have access to healthy meals. (See letter from Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, a letter from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and 19 other Senate Republicans, and a letter from House Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx and fellow Republicans.)
While critical, waivers alone can’t guarantee that all children will be reached with the nutrition they need. That is why Congress must hurry and extend Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits to help fill the nutrition gap left by the lack of school meals due to school closures. Take action now.
Inaction by USDA Puts Children at Risk of Hunger
FRAC’s Crystal FitzSimons condemns U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s decision to end waivers that allow school district to provide children with free meals during the pandemic. In this story for The 74, FitzSimons says, “We are still in an economic crisis. We are still in an educational crisis. We are still in a health crisis. We need to broadly meet children’s nutritional needs.”
Reaching More Families with SNAP
In an Austin American-Statesmaninterview, FRAC President Luis Guardia explains how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is well-positioned to respond to the magnitude of the number of people seeking food assistance and reaffirms why boosts to SNAP are critical to stimulating the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Government needs to act now to limit the depth and duration of the hardship. The Senate should act immediately to boost SNAP benefits, both to address food hardship and to get our economy moving,” said Guardia.
Urgent Call to Close the Grocery Gap
“Access to healthy food is a racial and health equity issue,” said D.C. Hunger Solutions’ Director Beverley Wheeler in this video by CNBC Digital that highlighted the lack of grocery stores in Black neighborhoods and why equitable access to healthy foods is non-negotiable. The segment also features FRAC President Luis Guardia who weighed in on the role of federal nutrition programs, saying “charities and food banks play a role but we are facing a problem of tremendous scale. Federal nutrition programs are the tools we have to address this problem.”
Expanding Access to Summer Meals: A Look at FRAC’s Annual Summer Nutrition Report
In this blog, FRAC’s Child Nutrition Policy Analyst Clarissa Hayes discusses the results of FRAC’s annual report on the Summer Nutrition Programs. She lays out how close states came to the goals FRAC sets for participation in the programs. In July 2019, the Summer Nutrition Programs provided lunch to only one child for every seven children who participated in free and reduced-price school lunch during the 2018–2019 regular school year. She also notes that the Summer Nutrition Programs were critical when schools closed in the spring due to COVID-19, and urges USDA to offer waivers again this fall to ensure families can access the programs.
What 501(c)(3)s Can Do This Election Season to Ensure That No One Goes Hungry
FRAC and its partners are connecting people to the federal nutrition programs and advocating for increased funding for the programs, but it is important to engage in election activities to do even more to fight hunger. In this blog, FRAC President Luis Guardia writes about how 501(c)(3)s can engage in elections work. 501(c)(3)s can register people to vote, get out the vote, get people counted in the Census, and educate candidates about hunger and poverty.
Centering Racial Equity in the SNAP Response to COVID-19
Emerson Hunger Fellow Methany Eltigani writes about the importance of boosting SNAP to ensure that communities that have been hit the hardest during COVID-19 can continue to put food on the table. Black communities and other marginalized racial and ethnic communities faced high rates of food insecurity before the pandemic and have faced even higher rates since the onset of the pandemic. Boosting SNAP benefits and continuing to expand SNAP is an important factor in decreasing racial disparities in health and food insecurity.
Status Update: P-EBT Approved in 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Emerson Hunger Fellow Anne Marie Noll provides an update on the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program (P-EBT). P-EBT provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to pandemic-related school closures. It has now been approved in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Anne Marie shares ways that states can ensure eligible families can access the support the program provides. These include using channels of communication already in place, making sure the state’s P-EBT website has updated information, and providing updates throughout the process of implementation.