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: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ‘Food stamps should be nonpartisan’: Sen. Gillibrand wants to increase federal food assistance, New York Daily News, May 19, 2020 Ellen Vollinger, the SNAP director at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), told reporters that while full numbers were not available, her group was hearing of SNAP benefit applications surging by factors of five in many places. “The demand is off the charts,” Vollinger said. About 38 million people depended on SNAP before the contagion, down almost 10 million from the peak in the wake of the Great Recession. The numbers are likely to be even higher in this crisis, but Vollinger said ensuring people can eat will ease the pain for both people and the nation’s fiscal situation.
Food Banks Get the Love, But SNAP Does More to Fight Hunger, National Public Radio, May 22, 2020 Food banks have two separate functions. They provide food to people who need it, but they also find new homes for food that might go to waste, often because farmers and food companies haven’t been able to sell it. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a program where milk processors can donate milk that they are not selling to food banks. However, food banks often do not have the refrigerator storage to receive all of the milk that dairy producers are hoping to donate. Food banks are limited by their capacity to receive and distribute food whereas SNAP gives participants the ability to purchase food using an electronic benefits card without the intermediary.
Wisconsin Relaxes Food Stamp Rules, Wisconsin Examiner, May 16, 2020 Wisconsin joins nine other states in allowing for online purchasing to assist those eligible for SNAP. This comes out of a push from Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representatives Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, and Mark Pocan in addition to Governor Tony Evers. Senator Baldwin, along with a bipartisan group of her colleagues, wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating that “social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders have made it challenging — and unsafe — for many individuals to travel to purchase food …We believe that no individual or family should be disadvantaged because they rely on SNAP benefits to access the food they need.”
Food Drops Are Not Enough. Expand Food Stamps Programs Now., Flagler Live, May 17, 2020 There is a growing strain on food banks as the economic consequences of the pandemic unfold. Instead of focusing on funding food banks, this author argues that boosting SNAP benefits will have a wider impact. For example, households receiving SNAP benefits have more choice in what they purchase, and SNAP provides economic stimulus for private businesses.
Amid COVID-19, SNAP Rolls Out Online Ordering, Next City, May 21, 2020 Under current plans, SNAP participants have to either provide a separate credit or debit card in order to get delivery or else they are required to pick up their order curbside. According to Beverley Wheeler, director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, D.C. has recently been approved to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s online ordering pilot, with an expected launch sometime this month. “One of the things I often say is that we make life difficult for poor people. Online delivery is so convenient for the rest of us,” Wheeler says. “If you’re poor and in the service industry or you have multiple kids or don’t have access to a car and need to go on the bus, it’s really difficult to take all of the kids to the market or getting back home on the bus before your second job.”
COVID-19: School Meals Schools are feeding millions of children. Now they face huge losses., Ag Insider, May 18, 2020 “School districts rely on economies of scale to operate financially viable school nutrition programs,” said Crystal FitzSimons, director of school programs at the Food Research & Action Center. “It is much easier to provide school breakfast and lunch to children when they are actually in school. With the significant decrease in participation, there is a significant concern that school nutrition finances will need additional support.”
Connecticut public schools are out, but their kitchens are busier than ever, The CT Mirror, May 26, 2020 “We did more applications in April than we did in the whole last quarter of last year,” said Robin Lamott Sparks, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut, which is pushing people to apply for SNAP. Sparks said they’ve handed out some 12,000 SNAP outreach cards in school lunches in Norwalk, Stamford, and Hamden, with the express purpose of helping those systems become eligible for the Community Eligibility Provision, which provides free school breakfast and lunch to all students in high-needs schools.
Chefs, Restaurants Lend Hand to Feeding Kids, The Intelligencer: Wheeling News-Register, May 17, 2020 In Wheeling, West Virginia, restaurants are helping to feed hungry children. Danny Swan, the executive director of Grow OV, said “Not only does the Restaurants to Schools program provide healthy food access to at-risk children, it also supports local restaurants that are struggling to keep business afloat and staff employed while indoor dining is not permitted.”
Basic Needs Insecurity Among Parenting College Students A recent reportreleased by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice, an action research center focused on advancing changes to meet real college students’ needs, focuses on the experiences and basic needs of students parenting while in college. The purpose of this report is to draw attention to the reality for most parenting students and promote policy changes and practices that can offer the best support.Read FRAC’s blog post to learn more about the effect of hunger on parenting college students.