As the year comes to a close, we would like to shine a light on the top eight ways FRAC and its network of anti-hunger advocates once again led the fight to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States during this unprecedented time.

  1. Advocated for Increased SNAP Benefits: One of FRAC’s top priorities this year was to increase SNAP Benefit Adequacy, both through temporary COVID-19 boosts and permanent updating of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP) on which SNAP benefits are based. With FRAC and our partners making a strong case, the vast majority of states continued to leverage COVID-19 SNAP Emergency Allotments throughout 2021 and USDA implemented the first meaningful improvement to the TFP in four decades. Effective October 1, 2021, USDA’s action increased basic SNAP benefits (exclusive of temporary COVID-19 boosts) by $36.24 a person a month.

    There is still work to be done to close SNAP benefit gaps. as a hunger cliff looms – benefits ending while the need is still great.  On average, SNAP households in most states will lose $82 a month in food benefits when COVID-19 SNAP Emergency Allotments end. Through our FRAC Action Network, FRAC is harnessing the voices of people across the country to urge Members of Congress to enact Close the Meal Gap Bill (H.R. 4077/S.  2192), which would do much to help SNAP households afford both food and other basics.
  2. Raised Our Hands for Healthy School Meals For All: Offering school breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge helps ensure that all children have the nutrition they need to grow and thrive, and help overcome the numerous barriers that limit participation in school meals.

    Since March 2020, our work has ensured waivers issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have allowed schools to provide meals at no charge to all students, no matter their household income. Without these waivers, the alarming spikes in childhood hunger caused by the fallout of COVID-19 would be even worse. Yet the waivers are set to end on June 30, 2022. We can’t turn back now. Healthy School Meals for All needs to be a permanent national standard.

    The momentum is building! Anti-hunger advocates across the country are joining FRAC’s Raise Your Hand social media campaign to show support for school nutrition programs and urge the administration and Congress to address childhood hunger by making free, healthy #schoolmeals4all permanent. FRAC leads on and champions in the Build Back Better Act policies that include a state option for Healthy School Meals for All and additional funding to help more schools offer free meals to all students through the Community Eligibility Provision. With support from FRAC, California and Maine have become the first states to pass legislation to establish free school meals for all students regardless of income beyond the June 2022 expiration date.
  3. Advanced Legislation to Mitigate the Alarming Spikes in Hunger: FRAC and its network of advocates and partners worked tirelessly throughout the year to advocate for comprehensive pandemic relief legislation to mitigate hunger and poverty during this unprecedented time. FRAC is currently urging the Senate to quickly pass the historic Build Back Better Act, which includes $10 billion in funding for the Child Nutrition Programs, including expanding the Community Eligibility Provision and Summer EBT. These critical investments will allow the nation to ensure millions more children have access to the nutrition they need year-round and help overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic. The bill builds on investments in the American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year, that helped bolster nutrition assistance for tens of millions of people across the country by boosting SNAP benefits and introducing the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program, which provides nutritional resources to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures.

    Other pandemic benefits included maximizing the role of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and child nutrition waivers in response to COVID-19. See other bills FRAC is supporting.
  4. The FRAC Action Network Connects Advocates and Policymakers:
    The FRAC Action Network was launched so advocates could contact their members of Congress directly to urge them to support and pass urgently needed legislation. To date, thousands of e-mails have been sent to Congress.
  5. Made Strides in Centering Our Work in Racial Equity: The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the racial inequities that have plagued this country for far too long. Black and Latinx households  are experiencing food insecurity at least twice the rate of white households, data on Native Americans is underrepresented if nonexistent, and recent uprisings across the country are a stark reminder of the critical proactive work that is needed to create fundamental change for a more just society. This year, FRAC has made intentional strides to better center our work around racial equity. This includes launching our first Social Impact and Equity Fund to identify, recognize, and financially support innovative strategies among organizations working to leverage federal nutrition programs such as SNAP, WIC, and school meals to fight hunger and promote equity. Four organizations will each receive a $25K grant to continue doing exceptional work fighting hunger and injustice, centering equity throughout their operations, policy, and advocacy efforts, and working in collaboration with people with lived expertise.
  6. Fought Fear with Facts Once the Public Charge Rule was Blocked: When the 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge rule was removed last April, FRAC provided advocates with three key ways to expand outreach and connect more families to federal nutrition programs: (1) encourage your state government to issue clear, affirmative messaging on immigrant family access to nutrition programs, (2) educate staff and stakeholders on nutrition program eligibility for immigrant families and (3) continue to nurture and build relationships with immigrant communities, immigrant-serving organizations, and other trusted messengers in your area. Access a FRAC/ National Immigration Law Center report for more recommendations and to read about focus groups with key stakeholders.
  7. Highlighted the Link between Hunger, Poverty, and Equity During the Pandemic: In September 2021, FRAC released the report, Hunger, Poverty, and Health Disparities During COVID-19 and the Federal Nutrition Programs’ Role in an Equitable Recovery. This report details how COVID-19 has exacerbated disparities that predated the pandemic due to systemic injustices and offers policy recommendations that leverage the federal nutrition programs for a robust and equitable recovery.

    The report spotlights research on populations struggling with food insecurity including American Indian and Alaska Native Communities, Black communities, Latinx communities, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities.
  8. Served As a Go-To Resource During Disasters: SNAP responds to changes in need, whether due to economic crises or disasters. Throughout COVID-19, FRAC provided technical assistance and information to help communities recovering from hurricanes, flooding, wildfires and power outages know how to leverage Disaster SNAP and WIC FRAC offered lessons learned, including for adapting Disaster SNAP operations to comply with COVID-19 social distancing constraints. Our disaster responses were timely. For example, on August 29, when Hurricane Ida made landfall in the Gulf Coast, FRAC immediately launched a special Hurricane Ida resource center for those hard hit by that storm’s initial impact and then updated that resource center as the storm moved dangerously up the east coast.

 

This Holiday Season, Unite to #EndHungerNow