July 13, 2020

Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser

FRAC’S COVID-19 Updates

Check out FRAC’s COVID-19 page for updates, statements, and resources on actions to address the food security, public health, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 emergency. Explore FRAC’s Pandemic-EBT page, which tracks this new federal program across the country.


COVID-19: Food Insecurity

Millions of Americans going hungry as pandemic erodes incomes and destroys communities, NBC News, July 7, 2020
A study from Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Studies found that the pandemic roughly doubled food insecurity in the United States. “People who never thought they’d experience food insecurity are now seeking food assistance,” said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

Fighting Food Insecurity Amid COVID-19, Groups Advocate for 15% Food Stamp Boost, Forbes, July 8, 2020
As of June 2020, more than 20 percent of American households are experiencing food insecurity, according to Dr. Lauren Bauer, a Fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Put differently, in one out of every five households in the United States, the food purchased did not last, and the household did not have enough money to get more. To fight the rise in food insecurity, a coalition of nearly 2,500 organizations are calling for a 15 percent increase in the maximum monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit. According to a recent statement by FRAC: “Hungry people can’t wait.”

COVID-19: Child Nutrition

Utah kids who qualified for free or reduced fee lunches will now get $308 from a federal program, The Salt Lake Tribune, July 10, 2020
Families of schoolchildren in Utah who were eligible in March for free or reduced-price lunches will receive a prepaid debit card or additional SNAP benefits of $308 for each child through a federal program called Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). The one-time payment will automatically go to families already on SNAP but others who are not part of that program will have to apply for the funds. “These benefits will help many Utah families who have faced job loss and may be struggling to afford food for their families,” said Gina Cornia, director of Utahns Against Hunger. “We appreciate the hard work and leadership it has taken to get this program off the ground.”

Meal Programs Scramble to Feed More Hungry Children, The New York Times, July 8, 2020
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program tries to fill summer hunger and learning gaps by providing free meals to children in low-income areas, distributing food at schools, community centers, summer camps, and food pantries. But even in the years before COVID-19, the program was only able to reach one child for every seven who received free or reduced-price school meals during the academic year, according to a 2019 report by the Food Research & Action Center. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to stop operating, and, as a result, school meals, the federal government created the P-EBT program to provide benefits to cover the cost of school meals at the free or reduced-price rate that an eligible child would have received while the school was open. P-EBT, however, only covers school meals; Congress has yet to authorize the program to cover summer meals as well.

New Mexico low-income families to receive Pandemic EBT card, KFOX 14, July 7, 2020
The New Mexico Human Services Department announced that about 168,000 families whose children receive free or reduced-price lunch at school will receive $67 million in SNAP benefits, or $399 for each student, on a P-EBT card. The card will work like a normal EBT card and those who already have one will have the funds transferred directly into their account. If a household does not already have an EBT card, the P-EBT card will be mailed to the child’s address that the school district has on file. Some of this money was already distributed to families, but for families that qualify and haven’t received their benefits yet, the P-EBT cards are expected to arrive shortly.

Public Health, School Meals Cut Obesity Risk for Low-Income Kids, Patient Engagement Hit, July 7, 2020
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 intended to address new science surrounding childhood obesity and nutrition with recommendations from the National Academy of Medicine. The act was deemed a success: “After HHFKA was implemented for school meals, children in poverty had a 9 percent lower odds of having obesity each year, when the other variables were controlled for,” according to researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Roughly, we estimate that in 2018 this meant over 500,000 fewer cases of obesity among children in poverty, reducing the risk of future chronic diseases for these children as well as avoiding substantial health care costs.”

COVID-19: Accessibility of Federal Nutrition Programs

The pandemic has left millions hungry. This group helps people get food benefits fast, by text., The Washington Post, July 8, 2020
A Chicago organization named mRelief created a text message-based app that quickly helps people find out whether they qualify for SNAP benefits, and also helps them apply. In the past six years, the nonprofit has helped more than 700,000 people across the country connect to SNAP benefits online or by texting the word “food” to the number 74544.

WIC introducing electronic cards, WABI 5, July 9, 2020
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Maine is transitioning from food vouchers to an EBT card called “e-WIC.” “The WIC program is kind of different because getting the food from us, you also get the nutritional education, which is so important,” said WIC Nutrition Program Director Ginger Roberts-Scott. “So whatever is going on in your life, the nutritionist tailors the education to that person’s individual life.” Penobscot and Piscataquis Counties started using the electronic system in June, and all other Maine counties will be using the e-WIC system by August 31.

Why Are SNAP Benefits So Confusing That Even Social Workers Can’t Figure Them Out?, Talk Poverty, July 9, 2020
In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a rule targeting Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD). The rule states that those who are not receiving Social Security Income or Social Security for Disabilities Income, and do not have children must work 20 hours per week in order to receive their SNAP benefits. Previously, states had been able to apply for waivers to ease those requirements, but the new rules would take that flexibility away and remove benefits from 700,000 SNAP recipients. One of the groups that will be affected if the rule takes effect are students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate institution “more than half-time,” unless they receive a special exemption.

About Us

FRAC is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. Visit our website to learn more.

Contact Us

Food Research & Action Center
1200 18th Street, NW Suite 400
Washington, District of Columbia 20036
(202) 986-2200