Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, January 22, 2021 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is pleased and encouraged that President Biden has twice in his first week in office announced a set of strategic actions for eradicating hunger in America, which only has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
The executive order to address food insecurity that was announced today sends an important message to the nation that ending hunger in this country must be a top priority. This sound and effective action not only provides desperately needed support for tens of millions of people struggling to put food on the table but is also an effective trigger for jump-starting the economy.
FRAC and its network of thousands of grassroots anti-hunger advocates have long called for boosts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. The executive order provides an important start in that direction by asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address the inadequacy of SNAP benefits and issuing guidance to states to increase SNAP emergency allotments for households that are experiencing severe financial struggles. The order also calls for USDA to reexamine the adequacy of the Thrifty Food Plan to ensure SNAP benefits can provide people the necessary nutrition they need for a healthy, active life. President Biden also is committed to extending the duration of the 15 percent boost to SNAP.
Under the executive order, USDA also is being asked to increase the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit by 15 percent. This new program has been a lifeline to families by providing resources to buy groceries when their children are missing out on free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures or schools operating under a hybrid model. P-EBT has been tremendously effective at addressing the alarming spikes in childhood hunger caused by COVID-19; however, benefits are only provided for “school days,” leaving families without benefits during summer break and when school is out of session. These are times when childhood hunger peaks, even prior to the pandemic. To address hunger during the summer months and when school is out of session, FRAC asks that benefits be provided to families during these periods.
FRAC looks forward to working with the Biden administration and Congress on these and additional initiatives to swiftly move the agenda for ending hunger in this country.
For 50 years, the Food Research & Action Center has been the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.