Tag and Tell Congress to Boost SNAP Now to Fill Empty Plates
Be sure to join in FRAC’s Day of Action today as we urge Congress to pass and the president to sign a COVID-19 relief package with boosts to SNAP benefits to put much-needed food on empty plates and stimulate the economy.
COVID-19: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Health advocates push for expanded nutrition assistance to ease record food insecurity, stimulate economy, Food Navigator-USA, August 4, 2020 Public health advocates with the Hamilton Project, Brookings Institution, Food Research & Action Center, and others are calling on legislators to increase by 15 percent the maximum benefits provided by SNAP, which helps those in need buy food; and to extend and expand the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program, which gives families that qualify for free and reduced-price school meals a voucher to purchase groceries for the same amount as the value of school meals missed due to school closures related to COVID-19 during the 2019–2020 academic year. They argue that expanding nutrition assistance through temporary, targeted payments not only helps ease hardship from food insecurity, but historical data suggest that boosting SNAP benefits during economic downturns can help stimulate the economy at a significantly higher rate than the initial investment.
Compassion Will See Us Through This Crisis, Austin American-Statesman, August 2, 2020 “COVID-19 is taking a toll on Americans, threatening food security, health, and economic well-being in both the short term and long term,” said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center. “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.”
Pres. Trump signs COVID-related orders, including unemployment benefit reduced to $400 per week, ABC7, August 9, 2020 President Donald Trump has bypassed Congress as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new COVID-19 relief package collapsed. His order called for up to $400 payments each week, one-third less than the $600 people had been receiving. Additionally, the previous unemployment benefit, which expired on August 1, was fully funded by the federal government, but Trump is asking states to now cover 25 percent.
Lawmakers Focus on Advancing a New Coronavirus Relief Package, High Plains Journal, August 1, 2020 Missing from the Senate COVID-19 relief bill was the 15 percent increase in SNAP assistance that Democrats and anti-hunger groups have been demanding. The “HEALS Act is an unconscionable failure in our federal response to the COVID-19 hunger crisis,” according to a joint statement by the Alliance to End Hunger, Bread for the World, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Feeding America, Food Research & Action Center, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and Share our Strength.
As food insecurity rates rise, Kansas advocates call for assistance, Hays Post August 4, 2020 Haley Kottler of Kansas Appleseed understands the importance of SNAP, a program that delivers food benefits nationwide. “I know a single mother who was able to continue to pay her utilities and keep the internet on so her daughter could continue her school work because of the flexibility provided,” said Kottler. Amid the pandemic, food insecurity rates are rising and the number of SNAP recipients in Kansas has skyrocketed from just under 190,000 in February to over 213,000 in June, a more than 12 percent increase. Numbers nationwide have followed suit, with more than 54 million people expected to experience food insecurity due to COVID-19.
Growing Number of States Allow SNAP Recipients to Shop Online, PYMNTS, August 6, 2020 Citing the need to support social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, Utah officials announced on August 6 that recipients of federal SNAP benefits can now shop online for groceries using their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. The announcement covers 160,000 Utah residents in 67,000 households who receive $235 million each year in SNAP benefits. Currently, Walmart and Amazon Grocery are the only two retailers in the state that have agreed to process online purchases by customers using SNAP benefits. “As we navigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the availability of this critical program will help many Utahns,” said Dale Ownby, eligibility services division director for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, in a press release. “Providing online purchasing options allows individuals more opportunity to practice social distancing, particularly for those who are high-risk.
COVID-19: Child Nutrition Programs
Legislators Propose Universal Free School Meals During COVID-19, Modern Farmer, August 6, 2020 A new bill, called the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, aims to make free school meals more accessible and available. Under the bill, every single school district would be able to provide free meals to any student who requests one, including delivery and grab-and-go meals. By eliminating the verification process for each individual student, the bill has the dual bonus of reducing the red tape for meal providers and of making it easier for hungry kids to actually get these meals.
Seaside School District provides summer meals to students, Cannon Beach Gazette, August 3, 2020 Seaside School District in Oregon has been providing a summer “Grab-n-Go” meal service this summer. The assistance began June 15, and will continue until August 28. The meal service, which provides free meals to children, is through the Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded nutrition program that is open to all kids ages 1–18 years old. All children and teens are welcome to stop by one of the drop-off locations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture granted a waiver to the Oregon Department of Education so the Seaside School District could provide “grab-n-go” service (breakfast and lunch) during the COVID-19 pandemic.