Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, December 21, 2020 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends Congressional leaders for proposing a COVID-19 relief package that makes an immediate and essential downpayment on nutrition and other critical assistance for tens of millions of people across the country whose lives have been upended by the pandemic. Black and Latinx households have been particularly hit hard.
We are particularly grateful for the anti-poverty champions in the House and Senate who joined FRAC and its national network of anti-hunger advocates in calling for boosts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and addressing the growing needs of struggling households in every community in America.
The relief package boosts the SNAP maximum benefit by 15 percent for six months (through June 30, 2021), expands SNAP benefits and eligibility for some unemployed individuals and college students, provides administrative funds to states to keep SNAP benefits flowing to households in need, and provides a foundation on which the next Congress and administration must build.
As the hunger crisis grows, SNAP remains our country’s first line of defense against hunger. SNAP is designed to respond quickly and effectively to address the growing need. SNAP provides a scalable solution: for every one meal provided by the Feeding America food bank network, SNAP provides nine. Moreover, local and state economies need rapid recovery, and for each $1 spent in SNAP benefits during a downturn, local economies generate between $1.50 and $1.80 in activity.
The bill also makes investments in other critical nutrition programs:
- Expands the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program for children under six-years-old, a program offering a lifeline that fills nutrition needs when child care is closed due to COVID-19 and gives states some additional flexibilities to support the distribution of P-EBT benefits to school-age children.
- Provides emergency funding to support the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) child care providers and sponsors services and the School Nutrition Programs by replacing 55 percent of the total reimbursement funding lost for each claiming month from April 2020 to June 2020 plus half of March 2020.
- Establishes a task force to support online delivery systems for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
- Provides funding for Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs, including congregate and home-delivered meals, and extends waivers providing flexibility in Older Americans Act nutrition services.
- Provides additional funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
- Provides $614 million in nutrition grants to Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
This relief package is another step in the right direction, but it still falls short of the longer-term comprehensive relief needed to limit the depth and duration of the public health and economic crisis. FRAC is committed to working with the new Congress and the next administration on a longer-term and more robust package in the new year to provide the full range of economic relief necessary to alleviate the hardship faced by millions of households.
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.