Check this page for updates on efforts to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on the health, well-being and food security of low-income people.
FRAC encourages advocates to urge state agencies to apply for child nutrition waivers as needed, and to contact your Members of Congress with specific and broad requests for inclusion in any stimulus package.
For the 37 million people living in households that struggle against hunger, COVID-19 presents unique challenges. As more schools, child care centers, and older adult meal sites close, additional families will lose access to the federal nutrition and food programs that improve their nutrition, health, and well-being.
To ensure those who lack resources to stockpile food and rely on school breakfast and lunch to help feed their children nutritious food, administrators and legislators should consider:
- Adapting Disaster SNAP and disaster provisions of other federal nutrition programs to provide nutrition resources for low-income consumers and to make up for disrupted school meals service.
- Suspending implementation of rules changes that weaken SNAP benefits and enrollment.
- Increasing SNAP benefit amounts to bolster the program’s countercyclical impacts.
- Providing additional authority to USDA to provide child nutrition waivers. USDA is currently reporting that it cannot waive the eligibility requirements or other access limitations within the child nutrition programs.
- Providing additional funding and authority to HHS’s Administration for Community Living to allow for more meals as well as flexibility in meal service models for congregate and home-delivered meals.
- Providing additional funding and grant waiver authority to USDA to allow WIC to certify participants without being physically present at WIC clinics, and waive other administrative requirements that are barriers to serving WIC participants during the coronavirus outbreak.
March 18, 2020
The Senate passes the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Read FRAC’s statement commending the Senate for passing this emergency aid package, while calling on Congress and the administration to do more.
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.
Call your Senators TODAY at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to quickly pass H.R. 6201, Families First Coronavirus Response Act. All Senators need to hear from their constituents that we need these protections NOW to take a critically important first step toward addressing this public health and economic crisis. Families and workers across the country need access to vital programs and basic needs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.