Statement attributed to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, September 29, 2020 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) strongly endorses the updated HEROES Act released by House Democrats last night. The comprehensive COVID-19 relief bill includes much-needed benefit boosts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that are critical to reducing the number of hungry households and to stimulating the economy. The bill also makes investments in other vital programs that assist people in meeting their basic needs during COVID-19.
SNAP serves as the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. Strengthening this proven program is critical to helping millions of people afford the nutrition they need. SNAP is designed to respond quickly and effectively to address the growing need. For every one meal provided by the Feeding America food bank network, SNAP provides nine. And, for every $1 spent with SNAP, $1.50–$1.80 is generated in economic activity during an economic downturn.
The bill includes the anti-hunger community’s key SNAP priorities:
- Boosts SNAP maximum benefits by 15 percent through Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, including the Puerto Rico and American Samoa block grant (NAP) versions of SNAP
- Increases the SNAP minimum monthly benefit from $16 to $30 through FY 2021
The bill contains other important nutrition provisions, including
- Temporarily suspends SNAP time limits for certain adults and mandatory SNAP employment and training
- Provides $300 million in funding for states’ SNAP administrative expenses over FY 2021 and FY 2022 to manage the increased number of applicants
- Provides that college students not be barred from accessing SNAP benefits for lack of work study or job engagement during the pandemic
- Excludes Pandemic Unemployment Compensation from counting against SNAP benefit eligibility
- Permits SNAP benefits for purchasing hot prepared foods from authorized retailers until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency
- Provides financial relief for child care providers, sponsoring organizations, and schools
- Temporarily expands the age of eligibility for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at emergency homeless shelters from 18 to 25 years
- Allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to temporarily increase Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Cash Value Vouchers up to $35 per month for women and children to help families purchase more fruits and vegetables
- Provides additional funding to programs to respond to increased costs, including $10 billion for SNAP, $400 million for WIC, $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and more funding for nutrition assistance for U.S. territories
- Waives the payment of the non-federal share requirement for Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) funding provided in the CARES Act, and provides USDA with authority to allow Tribal member SNAP households that are unable to access approved retail food stores due to COVID-19 to receive FDPIR.
In addition to a spike in food needs across the country, millions of families that have lost jobs are also saddled with rent and health care costs that they can no longer afford. We commend House Democrats for a comprehensive relief bill that makes investments in nutrition and other critical programs to assist people in meeting their basic needs during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Hungry people can’t wait. We urge both chambers of Congress to pass and the administration to sign this bill quickly.
For more information, check out FRAC’s analysis of the updated HEROES Act.
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.