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)
SNAP increases for older adults should be a bipartisan no-brainer, The Hill, July 4, 2020 In this opinion piece by Bob Blancato, executive director of the National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs and the national coordinator of the Defeat Malnutrition Today coalition, and Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the authors write to the importance of addressing food insecurity among older adults. With job loss, closures of senior centers that housed meal sites, and escalating food prices, millions more older adults are now worried about putting food on the table. While there is not a medical solution to end COVID-19, there is a tool to mitigate the public health and economic crisis it has created: SNAP, which serves as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. The authors argue that Congress and the administration need to act to limit growing food security by investing in SNAP and other nutrition programs to help people get the nourishment they need to weather the pandemic, and also to stimulate the economy.
Stark racial disparities emerge as families struggle to get enough food, Politico, July 6, 2020 “This is uncharted territory,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, an economist and director of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. “We’ve never seen food insecurity rates double, or nearly triple — and the persistent race gaps are just appalling.” The racial disparities are stark, with 29 percent of Black households and 24 percent of Hispanic households reporting that children were not eating enough, compared with 9 percent of White households, according to an upcoming report by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project. For all groups, those levels are higher than before the pandemic. To combat this rising hunger, Representatives John Katko (R-NY), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) lead a letter to House and Senate leadership asking for an increase in SNAP benefits. A third of the House signed on.
Senator Klobuchar seeks funding to help the hungry, KBJR6, July 1, 2020 Before the pandemic, 1 out of every 11 Minnesotans faced hunger, and in August that number is expected to be 1 in 8. In response, Senator Amy Klobuchar is calling for a 15 percent increase in federal funding for SNAP. “You have some fundamental rights and one of them should be not to go hungry,” Klobuchar said. “We’ve always believed in Minnesota, it’s one of the reasons our state is strong in helping each other.”
Kansas organization pleads with Senate for food security relief package, WIBW, July 3, 2020 “We are concerned about the health and well-being of our fellow Kansans,” says Jami Reever, executive director of Kansas Appleseed. “More Kansas families are relying on food banks and the Summer Food Service Program to feed their families. As state officials work to provide increased access to food nutrition programs, our federal representatives can also take action.” Kansas Appleseed and FRAC are urging the Senate to take action in three ways: to increase the maximum SNAP monthly benefit by 15 percent, to increase the minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30, and to remove rules from before the pandemic that would make over 700,000 SNAP recipients ineligible.
Why Advocates Say Food Stamps Should Work on Cooked Food, Next City, July 1, 2020 Advocates across the country are urging states to participate in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP), which expands SNAP-purchasing options to prepared foods. The pilot program began in 2003. “At a time in our country when so many restaurants and retail establishments were telling people they weren’t welcome, we had partners saying, ‘No, we welcome you. Let’s make sure the resources you have can be spent here,’” says Jessica Bartholow, a policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty. Until recently, very few states participated in RMP, but the COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a renewed interest in the program and the flexibility it provides. “From our perspective, more options are better. If you can expand how someone can use their benefits, they can make their own choices,” explains Michael J. Wilson, the director of Maryland Hunger Solutions.
Vital Signs: Food Insecurity on the Rise during COVID-19, Caledonian Record, July 1, 2020 Before COVID-19, 11 percent of Vermont residents were food insecure. Since the pandemic, the Vermont Foodbank says they have seen up to an 800 percent increase in the number of people reaching out for help. According to Nicole Whalen, Vermont Foodbank director of communications and public affairs, the food bank distributes 1 million pounds of food in a month. In April, the food bank distributed about 1.8 million pounds, an 83 percent increase. “We’re trying to think creatively [how] we can get food into the community that doesn’t collapse our already overburdened charitable food system,” said Whalen. She went on to state that one way to achieve this would be to increase funding for 3SquaresVT, the state’s program for SNAP.
COVID-19: Child Nutrition
Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program provides WIC participants with fresh food,WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News, June 30, 2020 Through the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, those who are participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can get $30 to spend at local farmers’ markets in Jackson, Tennessee. “It’s a great program because it actually provides fresh fruit and vegetables for local families,” said Jackson-Madison County Regional Health Department Public Information Officer Mallory Cooke. WIC participants will get six $5 vouchers to use at farmers’ markets across the state, so long as the farmer is approved for the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program. These vouchers can only be used through July and August. Additionally, curbside pickup began in July at the WIC office to pick up the vouchers.
P-EBT application deadline extended to July 31, Wichita Falls Times Record News, July 1, 2020 Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday, June 29, that the Health and Human Services Commission extended the deadline to apply for the federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) to July 31. “The extension of the P-EBT deadline helps ensure that Texans have to apply for this program and provide nutritious food to their families as the state continues to combat COVID-19,” said Abbott. “Ensuring access to healthy food in our communities is an important part of our response to the pandemic. To date, nearly $700 million in P-EBT has been issued to families, benefiting more than 2.5 million children.
FOR YOUR HEALTH: Feeding A Global Need, The Townline, July 1, 2020 According to FRAC, many of the children who face a nutrition gap when the school year ends also are affected disproportionately by summer learning loss, known as the “summer slide,” which refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer. This means that these children return to school in the fall academically behind their peers and struggling to catch up before classes even begin.
Amid COVID-19, summer meal efforts innovate in the face of uncertainty, EdNC, July 1, 2020 North Carolina is one of 12 states with a food insecurity rate higher than the national average. In Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, school buses began delivering free meals the first day that schools were closed due to COVID-19. The meals are prepared at two elementary schools and distributed to 37 sites across the district four days a week, with additional meals for Friday and the weekend provided on Thursdays. According to district officials, roughly 1,400 students are being served each day. Lynn Harvey, chief of child nutrition for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, said that almost 60 percent of the state’s public school students — about 826,000 — qualify for free or reduced-price meals, and 27.6 percent of students struggle with hunger. That was prior to the pandemic and has only increased since.
Senators urge boost to SNAP Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) took to the Senate floor on July 1, to lead speeches on the urgency for the Senate to take up a COVID-19 recover package that must include boosts to SNAP. Senator Stabenow was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bob Casey (D-PA) in amplifying the urgent need to boost SNAP in the next COVID-19 recovery package. Others joined in on social media. Read more to see the highlights.
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.
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