What you need to know:

  • On March 27, the President signed into law the third COVID-19 relief bill – H.R. 784, the Coronavirus Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, originally S.3548). Read FRAC’s statement on the bill. Also, check out a summary from Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and a summary from Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and a summary from Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
  • The second COVID-19 legislative package, H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was signed into law on March 18. Read FRAC’s statement and a summary of the bill.
  • A federal judge issued an injunction on March 13 blocking the Trump administration from implementing a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off of SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.
  • FRAC responds quickly to ensure the nutritional needs of millions in the U.S. are met. Read about FRAC’s early and ongoing leadership here.

Federal Nutrition Programs: Response to COVID-19

  • Meals During School and Child Care Closings
    COVID-19 Child Nutrition Guidance and Meal Sites by State
    This interactive map includes links to each state agency’s website containing guidance on how to serve meals during school closures. In addition, you will find a link to a list or map of meal sites available in the state (if available).

    Pandemic EBT
    Guidance from FRAC that summarizes and offers considerations for implementing Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). The Families First Coronavirus Response Act creates the P-EBT program, an important opportunity to provide nutritional resources to families who are losing access to free or reduced-price school meals as school across the country close in response to COVID-19.

    Serving Students School Meals During COVID-19 Webinar (from 3/18/20)
    Listen to this recording of SNA, USDA, and FRAC’s webinar discussing guidelines for serving school meals when schools are closed or dismissed. School nutrition operators will also provide practical ideas for how to provide meals to students in partnership with their communities, state agencies, and other partners.

    USDA Child Nutrition Waivers Guide
    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue nationwide waivers to ensure access to meals through the child nutrition programs as communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to issue waivers to increase cost.

    A Resource for School Superintendents: Meeting Students’ Nutritional Needs During a Pandemic
    Options for Superintendents to receive funding to serve meals and snacks to children when schools are closed.

    USDA Guidelines on Using Existing Authority to Implement SFSP and SSO Meal Delivery
    Q&As from the USDA on the logistics of delivering meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) while using existing authority.

    Summary of School Districts and Program Providers’ Efforts to Serve Meals During School Closings
    An active spreadsheet compiled by FRAC of school districts serving meals and broken down by state, district, and model.

    Ensuring Access to the Child Nutrition Programs in the Event of School Closures
    Guidelines from FRAC for adjusting Child Nutrition Programs if schools are closed.

    USDA Guidelines on Child Nutrition Program Meal Service During COVID-19 Outbreaks
    Learn about the USDA’s guidelines for schools and child care centers to provide meals to children affected by school or child care closures through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO).

    Coronavirus is Closing Schools. Here’s What it Means for Millions of Kids Who Rely on School Meals
    “If a child is facing a two-week school closure, it would be great if USDA not only waives the congregate feeding requirement but also allows schools to say, ‘Here’s 10 breakfasts and 10 lunches that you can take with you and help carry you through.’ That would go a long way, because in situations like this, it’s always the low-income people who get hurt first,” said Crystal FitzSimons, FRAC’s director of school and out-of-school time programs.

    Map: Coronavirus and School Closures
    Track where closures are happening and how many students are being affected with Education Week‘s interactive map.

  • Feeding Older Americans
    Senior Nutrition Program: Nutrition Services Frequently Asked Emergency Management Questions
    Answer frequently asked questions relating to the Senior Nutrition Program and COVID-19 from the Administration for Community Living.
  • CACFP
    CACFP Update: Families First Act
    FRAC’s advocacy initiative to facilitate the success of CACFP in continuing to support child care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Child and Adult Care Food Program: USDA Waivers
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued the first set of nationwide child nutrition program waivers based on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The three nationwide waivers will support Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers and programs in maintaining access to nutritious meals for children in the current COVID-19 public health emergency.

  • SNAP
    Update: A federal judge issues an injunction on March 13 blocking the Trump administration from implementing a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off of SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.

    SNAP Emergency Allotments to Current SNAP Households
    The USDA grants states waivers to issue SNAP emergency allotments bringing households’ benefits amounts up to the maximum benefit for their household size.

    The Food Marketing Institute Blog Post: It’s A “SNAP” To Order Online and Pay At Store
    Food Marketing Institute blog regarding “click, collect and pay” options for grocery access for SNAP shoppers.

    USDA blanket approval for states to adjust SNAP interview requirements

    Pandemic EBT
    Guidance from FRAC that summarizes and offers considerations for implementing Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT). The Families First Coronavirus Response Act creates the P-EBT program, an important opportunity to provide nutritional resources to families who are losing access to free or reduced-price school meals as school across the country close in response to COVID-19.

    SNAP COVID-19 Emergency Allotments Guidance
    Guidance from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regarding SNAP state agencies on implementing emergency SNAP allotments pursuant to H.R. 6201

    SNAP Guidance on Time Limits for Recipients Currently Enrolled
    Guidance from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) regarding SNAP state agencies on current status of SNAP time limits pursuant to H.R. 6201

    SNAP Pandemic Planning Guidelines
    Learn how State agencies can work within their agency and with State-level pandemic planning authorities to update their pandemic plans.

    An Advocate’s Guide to the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)
    Learn how D-SNAP works and what advocates, elected officials, and service providers can do to reduce hunger and food insecurity before, during, and after a disaster.

  • WIC
    COVID 19_WIC Waiver Flexibilities
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a State WIC agency template to allow agencies to request the multiple WIC flexibilities granted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

    Maximizing WIC’s Role in Supporting Health, Food Security, and Safety During the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Actions that WIC, advocates, partner organizations, and State and local policymakers can take to help preserve access to WIC during this pandemic.

    Making WIC Work Better: Strategies to Reach More Women and Children and Strengthen Benefits Uses
    FRAC supports the use of the full range of disaster options recommended in this report. These include maximizing options for WIC food package and redemption flexibilities, benefit replacement, and simplified income eligibility as necessary; continuing WIC services; and encouraging partners to disseminate WIC help to impacted communities.

  • Major Legislation Updates
    Relief Package 3, signed into law March 27, 2020: P.L. 116-136 – Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Focused on Providing Economic Stabilization, Substantial Help to First Responders, and Critical Assistance to Individuals, Families, and Businesses.

    Relief Package 2, signed into law March 18, 2020: P.L. 116-127 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Focused on Providing Free Testing, Strengthening Food Security, Increasing Health Access via Medicaid, Enhancing Unemployment Insurance, and Establishing New Emergency Paid Sick and Paid Family Leave for Workers.

    Relief Package 1, signed into law March 6, 2020: P.L. 116-123 – Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, signed into law March 6, 2020. Focused on Strengthening the Public Health Response via Vaccine Development and Support to Public Health Providers, Increasing State Resources to Address the Crisis, and Aiding Small Businesses.

  • Food Security
    Food Security is Economic Security is Economic Stimulus
    The Hamilton Project examines policies tailored to coronavirus that  support food security, particularly for households with children.
  • Timeline of Federal and Regulatory Updates
    March 27, 2020
    The President signed into law the third COVID-19 relief bill – H.R. 784, the Coronavirus Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act, originally S.3548). Read FRAC’s statement on the bill. Also, check out a summary from Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and a summary from Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and a summary from Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

    March 18, 2020
    Read FRAC’s statement calling on Congress for a more comprehensive stimulus package.

    The Senate passed the Families Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, with a vote of 90 to 8, with 45 Democrats voting for it (none against) and 45 Republicans voting for it (8 voted against). The President signed the bill into law. A version of the bill passed the House last week (see FRAC’s statement for details) that, in addition to promoting food security for low-income and vulnerable people, provides paid leave to some workers, provides additional funding for unemployment insurance, and establishes free testing for COVID-19.

    March 16, 2020
    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201, required another vote in the House on purely technical issues. The House passed the bill under unanimous consent, which does not require all Members on the Floor to vote.

    March 14, 2020
    Read FRAC’s statement commending the House for passing the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, H.R. 6201.

    The House passes the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, with a vote of 363 to 40, with 223 Democrats voting for it (none against) and 140 Republicans voting for it (40 against). Read the bill’s summary.

    March 13, 2020
    A federal judge issues an injunction blocking the Trump administration from implementing a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off of SNAP. The rule change was set to take effect April 1.

    President Trump issues a proclamation declaring a national emergency concerning COVID-19.

    March 12, 2020
    USDA releases SNAP Pandemic Planning Guidelines.

    March 11, 2020
    The House introduces the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The comprehensive legislation gives families and children a measure of economic security by providing some critically important resources to help put food on the table and stay safe during the COVID-19 emergency. The bill also provides paid leave, protects public health workers, and establishes free testing. It includes provisions from the Pandemic EBT Act, the COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act, and the Maintaining Essential Access to Lunch for Students (MEALS) Act.

    Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Jahanna Hayes (D-CT), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduce the Ensuring Emergency Food Security Act.

    March 10, 2020
    Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announces proactive flexibility to feed children when schools close. This announcement is effective immediately and will cover efforts triggered by school closings through June 30, 2020.

    The House Appropriations Committee holds a hearing on the Department of Agriculture’s Budget Request for FY 2021. At approximately the 45-minute mark, Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), read verbatim from FRAC’s weekly newsletter, The Update, regarding the challenges that COVID-19 poses for low-income people. Rep. Bishop then questioned Secretary Perdue about USDA’s response to the outbreak and the need for additional funds and authority to ensure people do not go hungry amid this outbreak.

    March 9, 2020
    Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sanford Bishop (D-GA) send a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue urging him to hold off on changes to SNAP amid the coronavirus outbreak.

    March 8, 2020
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer release a joint statement urging President Trump to prioritize the needs of American workers and their families before the needs of major corporations in the government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak. “Enacting any such changes during this time will only exacerbate current economic anxiety and unnecessarily increase the burden on the very people who need assistance,” the members wrote in the letter.

    March 6, 2020
    USDA issues the first state child nutrition waiver to Washington, which waives the congregate feeding requirement for the Summer Nutrition Programs. Washington’s second waiver request to eliminate the area eligibility requirement for summer meals sites has yet to be been approved or denied.