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)
Senate GOP won’t extend pandemic food stamps but doubles ‘three-martini lunch’ deduction, The Washington Post, July 28, 2020 Senate Republicans’ coronavirus relief proposal came under attack from a coalition of hunger advocates Tuesday for not extending funding for food assistance programs, despite rising demand during the pandemic. “Given the national conversation about institutional racism and inequality, the decision is baffling,” said Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center. “It’s hard to think of a program that has SNAP’s virtuous cycle of feeding people. That money turns over in the local economy quickly and creates more jobs, and ultimately if people have steady jobs, they aren’t hungry.”
Why Offer Food Stamps When People Can Have The 3-Martini Lunch?, Forbes Magazine, July 29, 2020 Weekly polling data from the Census Bureau show that over the last 12 weeks, the percentage of adults in households who reported that either “sometimes” or “often” there was not enough to eat in the last seven days has climbed from 9.8 percent to 12.1 percent. On Capitol Hill, the proposed Republican legislation — the “Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools Act,” or HEALS Act — does not extend to SNAP, one of the most efficient and effective ways of helping low-income households. HEALS also fails to extend the P-EBT program, which provides debit card funds for those whose children have temporarily lost food aid at their schools.
Food Stamp Use Could Skyrocket with Loss of Enhanced Unemployment Benefits, Route Fifty, July 28, 2020 Enhanced benefits for SNAP expired in July and Congress has yet to approve an extension. As a result, many unemployed workers who were initially excluded from SNAP could now be eligible, said Ellen Vollinger, legal director, Food Research & Action Center. “With upwards of 1 million new unemployment claims filed each week for the last several weeks, there continues to be great need for food assistance programs,” said Vollinger. “There is nothing right now that looks like the need is abating. The notion that the economy is going to get back to a decent situation where people are not going to need SNAP is unrealistic.”
Our food system will collapse without federal assistance, The Boston Globe, July 31, 2020 In this opinion piece by Erin McAleer, director of Project Bread, she states that in June, 17.3 percent of households in Massachusetts saw an increase in food insecurity, up from 9.3 percent during the same month in 2018. McAleer calls on Massachusetts senators to keep pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to support an increase for SNAP. Additionally, McAleer demands for Governor Charlie Baker and the state legislature to prioritize funding to support and expand efforts to connect families to SNAP, WIC, school meals, and other federal nutrition programs.
The USDA will end coronavirus exception, making SNAP recipients prove their income again to get food stamps, The Washington Post, July 31, 2020 The federal government has refused requests from jurisdictions including D.C. and Maryland to extend a SNAP waiver past August. This means that despite the ongoing pandemic, SNAP recipients will once again be required to prove their income or risk losing their benefits. “It’s a big problem,” D.C. Department of Human Services spokeswoman Dora Taylor-Lowe said. “This is not the time for people who are already vulnerable to lose their benefits. It’s just insane.” Those who cannot use the online application, which Taylor-Lowe says will be available by September, will need to come to a D.C. service center in person to recertify. Taylor-Lowe said the department is working on figuring out how to observe social distancing processes in the offices as much as possible.
The case for a boost to SNAP, Hagstrom Report, July 30, 2020 In addition to the federal boost to unemployment benefits, members must also include a boost to SNAP. Haley Kottler, campaign director of Kansas Appleseed, told reporters Wednesday in a call organized by the Food Research & Action Center, “Families are going to be hit with a financial crisis like we haven’t seen.” The nation’s major anti-hunger groups have denounced the HEALS Act. “Congress should not adjourn without increasing SNAP benefits,” the group said in a statement.
Anti-Hunger Advocates Push for Food Stamp Benefit Boost, WFYI Indianapolis, July 30, 2020 Emily Weikert Bryant is the executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, which works with food banks across the state. She said they’re under increased strain during the pandemic. And she said boosting SNAP benefits can make a bigger difference. “For every one meal that our members distribute, SNAP provides nine,” Bryant said. “It’s an economic engine.”
Note to Republicans in Congress: ‘It’s an awesome blessing to provide for people in need’ | COMMENTARY, The Baltimore Sun, July 31, 2020 In this opinion piece by columnist Dan Rodricks, the author compares the Senate Republicans’ latest COVID-19 relief bill with the House Democrats’ version. In the House version, $10 billion is allocated for SNAP while the Senate version includes no additional SNAP funding. According to Michael Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, some 600,000 Marylanders were receiving food stamps before the pandemic. The number shot up to 689,530 in April, he says, and thousands more have applied since then. Rodricks argues that people need help with rent. They need to pay their utility bills. And they need to eat.
COVID-19: School Meals
Chairman Scott Introduces Bill to Provide Free School Meals to All Students During COVID-19 Pandemic, Education and Labor Committee, July 31, 2020 On Friday, House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) introduced legislation to make all students eligible for free school meals during the 2020-2021 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would allow all children to access breakfast, lunch, and afterschool snack programs either in school or through “grab and go” and delivery options. The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act is co-led by Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN-05). The legislation is endorsed by 32 organizations, including the Food Research & Action Center.
As Schools Shut Down, a New Federal Program Eased Child Hunger, Study Finds, The New York Times, July 30, 2020 As the COVID-19 pandemic closed the nation’s schools, the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) aimed to help the 30 million children who rely on free and reduced-price meals, an often overlooked part of the American safety net. In the week after each state issued its payments, child hunger fell by about 30 percent, reducing the number of hungry children by at least 2.7 million, according to research from the Brookings Institution. “That’s a large reduction from a rate that was disturbingly high,” said Lauren Bauer, a Brookings researcher who was one of four co-authors on the study. It is not clear how long the reduction will last.
COVID-19: Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
August is National Breastfeeding Month, Red Lake National News, July 28, 2020 “Breastfeeding promotes bonding between mothers and babies. Breastfeeding is more than nutrition. It is a relationship between a mother and her infant,” Chickasaw Nation WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Jamie Lee said. The Chickasaw Nation WIC program is a non-discriminatory program, which provides nutritious foods at no charge to Native and non-Native pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children up to the age of five. Breastfeeding is all the more important during COVID-19 as it helps to build the child’s immune system. Breastfeeding parents are using their time to bond with their child.
Nearly 60 Percent Increase in Older Adult Food Insecurity During COVID-19: Federal Action on SNAP Needed Now, July 31, 2020 A new analysis from Diane Schanzenbach and Northwestern University shows that 13.5 percent of older adults (60+) face food insecurity, a dramatic increase of nearly 60 percent from pre-COVID-19 levels. Food insecurity rates are especially high among Black and Hispanic older adults. The analysis aligns with what communities across the country have been seeing firsthand: older adults, many of whom were already struggling to meet their food needs prior to the COVID-19 crisis, are facing even more challenges with putting food on the table.Leveraging the effectiveness of SNAP is a solution that makes sense and such measures should continue until there is sufficient economic recovery.
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