Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2021 — Today, the Senate passed the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief bill that will help bolster nutrition assistance for tens of millions of people across the country. We at FRAC are pleased that Congress and the Biden administration are taking critical steps on the pathway to end hunger in America by boosting benefit levels and eligibility for many people in need, especially children, older adults, and families.
Hunger in this country has spiked dramatically as a result of the public health and economic fallout of COVID-19 and things would be far worse if not for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs.
The bill includes critical investments needed to offset rising hunger, including extending the 15 percent boost to SNAP benefits through September 30, 2021; providing extra administrative funds to keep SNAP benefits flowing to households in need; and supplying additional funding to expand access to SNAP online purchasing.
SNAP remains our country’s first line of defense against hunger and is designed to respond quickly and effectively to address the growing need. 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:
- it allows young adults up to 24 years old to be eligible to receive healthy Child and Adult Care Food Program meals at homeless and youth-serving shelters;
- it provides Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program benefits to school-age and young children for the summer and extends the program through the end of the COVID-19 health crisis;
- it increases program funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program;
- it increases nutrition assistance funding for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa; and
- it provides additional funding to support nutrition programs for older adults and Native American communities under the Older Americans Act.
We are heartened that the bill includes many of the anti-hunger community’s key priorities. While we are disappointed that a $15 federal minimum wage was not included in the relief package, we strongly encourage members of Congress to continue the fight for a more adequate minimum wage so that low-income workers and their families can rise out of poverty and hunger.
FRAC is committed to working with Congress and the administration on the next recovery package which should include the full range of relief necessary to weather the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
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.