October 19, 2020

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FRAC’S COVID-19 Updates

Check out FRACs COVID-19 page for updates, statements, and resources on actions to address the food security, public health, and economic impacts of COVID-19.

COVID-19: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

Federal judge strikes down Trump rule that could have cut food stamps for nearly 700,000 unemployed Americans, CNN, October 18, 2020
A federal judge Sunday struck down a Trump administration rule that could have stripped food stamps from nearly 700,000 people, saying the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been “icily silent” about how many Americans would have been denied benefits had the changes been in effect during the pandemic. Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., wrote a 67-page ruling, saying that USDA has not adequately explained how the rule comports with federal statutes nor how it “makes sense.” The requirement could have resulted in 688,000 non-disabled, working-age adults without dependents losing their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, according to Agriculture Department estimates, which were calculated prior to the pandemic.

“Staggering” Need: COVID-19 Has Led to Rising Levels in Food Insecurity Across the U.S., CBS News Online, October 14, 2020
“[SNAP] is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger. It provides a tremendously efficient economic stimulus to the country,” said Luis Guardia, the president of FRAC. “We’re sort of wondering why they still haven’t moved forward on increasing the benefits.”

Meet mRelief, the Nonprofit Using Technology to Fight Hunger, Forbes, October 15, 2020
The mobile application mRelief addresses hunger by increasing access to resources and closing the digital divide — all through an equity-centered approach because they know that addressing hunger is an issue of racial equity. People of color are disproportionately affected by hunger. According to the Food Research & Action Center, Black people in America are 2.5 times more likely to be hungry than their white counterparts.

Addressing Food Insecurity and Poor Nutrition During COVID-19, Bipartisan Policy Center, October 14, 2020
During a Bipartisan Policy Center event on addressing food insecurity during COVID-19, Food Research & Action Center President Luis Guardia pointed out, “SNAP benefits are not adequate. We need to do more to help people during this time.”

COVID-19: Disparate Impact

Andrés, Stenzel Offer Ideas for the Next Farm Bill, The Fence Post, October 15, 2020
“Hunger has been a longstanding problem in the United States,” said FRAC President Luis Guardia during a Bipartisan Policy Center event.

8 Million Have Slipped Into Poverty Since May as Federal Aid Has Dried Up, The New York Times, October 15, 2020
After an ambitious expansion of the safety net in the spring saved millions of people from poverty, the aid is now largely exhausted and poverty has returned to levels higher than before the coronavirus crisis, two new studies have found. The number of poor people has grown by 8 million since May, according to researchers at Columbia University. Using a different definition of poverty, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Notre Dame found that poverty has grown by 6 million people in the past three months, with circumstances worsening most for Black people and children.

Mobile Outreach: A Lifeline During COVID-19, PBS, October 11, 2020
The Preble Street Resource Center, a social services agency in Portland, Maine, has adapted to the pandemic by driving food resources and social workers around in a truck. Noticing the increase in need, Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann said, “I understand the pressures on municipal and state and federal. But this is a time to support people who have nothing else. You know, the most vulnerable in our community.”

Advocates Worry ‘Food Insecurity’ Gains Could Be Upended by COVID-19, Arizona PBS Cronkite News, October 12, 2020
An estimated 26 million to 29 million adults nationally reported that members of their households “sometimes or often did not have enough to eat during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to FRAC. “People on the lower end of the income scale have certainly had it worse, but the Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately affected,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC.

Food Bank Funding Slashed Due to Pandemic, Jacksonville Progress, October 12, 2020
According to Luis Guardia, president of FRAC, “COVID has just wreaked havoc on so many things: on public health, on economic stability and obviously on food insecurity. It’s a crisis that’s testing families, communities, and the social safety net in ways that may have seemed unthinkable before the pandemic began.”

54 million people in America face food insecurity during the pandemic. It could have dire consequences for their health., American Association of Medical Colleges, October 15, 2020
“Though the factors underlying racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 in the United States are multifaceted and complex, long-standing disparities in nutrition and obesity play a crucial role in the health inequities unfolding during the pandemic,” writes a cohort of physicians and researchers in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September.

Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)

New school food law expands free meals in Virginia, WJLA, October 15, 2020
The school food bill that guarantees free meals for up to 109,000 more Virginia students in 180 schools has now been signed into law. The new legislation requires schools that qualify to participate in CEP. The Food and Drug Administration’s food service program provides free breakfast and lunch to students in low-income areas.

School Meals

ICYMI: USDA Extends Free Meals for All Kids, U.S. Department of Agriculture, October 16, 2020
“FRAC commends USDA for its decision to extend the Summer Nutrition waivers through June 30, 2021. This extension will ensure schools and private nonprofit organizations have the consistency and time needed in order to effectively plan and implement meal service for millions of children across the country who rely on free and reduced-price school meals,” said Luis Guardia, FRAC president.

USDA extends school meal flexibilities through end of school year, Penobscot Bay Pilot, October 13, 2020
The State of Maine has accepted 12 waiver extensions from USDA allowing for continued flexibilities in the federal Summer Food Service Program/Seamless Summer Option (SFSP/SSO) programs through the 2020–2021 school year, according to a news release. “We are really pleased that USDA continues to extend these necessary waivers to assist school nutrition programs across Maine with the funding and options they need to feed Maine kids during the pandemic,” said Walter Beesley, Maine Department of Education Director of Child Nutrition. “We continue to work closely with district and school leaders to ensure they have the resources and state-level support needed to continue their work.”

Feds Allow Summer Food Programs to Continue for Entire School Year, The Columbus Dispatch, October 14, 2020
“By heeding the calls, USDA is helping to ensure that millions of children have access to the nutrition they need regardless of their remote- or hybrid-learning setting,” said Luis Guardia, president of FRAC.

Pandemic Pushes U.S. Child Hunger to the Brink, Patch, October 16, 2020
According to Crystal FitzSimons, director of school programs at FRAC, “when children lose access to that food [school meals] — as they typically do during summer months — food insecurity rates tend to go up.” So when the pandemic began in March, prompting schools nationwide to quickly shut their doors, FitzSimons likened it to summer. In this case, however, schools “didn't have the opportunity to plan ahead.”


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, October 15, 2020
Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 when President Lyndon Johnson designated a week for celebrating the contributions that Americans who can trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture. The week was later extended to a month lasting from September 15 to October 15. In recognition of this month, FRAC is sharing profiles of 10 advocates from the Latinx community who are champions of the movement to end hunger and poverty.

Celebrating National School Lunch Week, October 14, 2020
October 12–16 is National School Lunch Week (NSLW), an annual weeklong celebration promoting the importance of school lunch and its impact on children both in and out of the classroom. NSLW may look very different this year, but school meals are more important than ever.

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