Colleen Barton Sutton
Statement attributed to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, September 22, 2020 —The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is pleased that the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution tonight that will go a long way in addressing childhood hunger, which has grown to even more alarming rates during COVID-19.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT), which provides families an EBT card to purchase food to replace the school meals their children are missing while learning remotely, has been extended through Fiscal Year 2021. The Continuing Resolution makes a number of improvements to P-EBT including: providing benefits to children who have a reduction in the number of days or hours they are physically in school or child care; allowing Puerto Rico and other territories to implement P-EBT; and providing funding to cover states’ administrative costs. Since its implementation, families have shared with us the importance of P-EBT, saying it has lifted the burden of choosing between feeding their families and paying the bills. Already, the program has lifted at least 2.7-3.9 million children out of hunger.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s authority to issue child nutrition waivers also has been extended through Fiscal Year 2021 to help mitigate the impact of millions of children losing access to free and reduced-price school meals as schools remain shuttered due to the pandemic. The Department also was given the authority to extend WIC administrative waivers including waiving the requirement for in-person WIC clinic visits through September 30, 2021.
In addition, the Continuing Resolution provides state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) agencies with needed flexibilities to adjust operations during COVID-19. It allows states, without obtaining prior USDA approval, to opt for many of the waivers that were made available earlier in COVID-19. These include waivers on deadlines for SNAP interviews, participant reporting, and eligibility recertifications. During a challenging time of remote program operations and increased need for benefits, these adjustments will help ease workload burdens on agencies and streamline SNAP access for people eligible for SNAP.
FRAC’s latest study, Not Enough to Eat: COVID-19 Deepens America’s Hunger Crisis, reveals households with children are more likely to report that they don’t have enough to eat. In 38 states and the District of Columbia, more than 1 in 10 adults with children said they did not have enough to eat. Hunger is disproportionally affecting households of color as more than 1 in 5 Black and Latinx adults with children reported they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in July 2020.
While the Continuing Resolution’s temporary investments are an important step for children who are learning remotely or in a hybrid learning model or in child care, millions of families are still struggling. We urge Congress to address quickly overall household hunger and economic turmoil through a longer-term comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that includes benefit boosts to SNAP and makes investments in other critical programs that assist people in meeting their basic needs during COVID-19. Hungry people can’t wait.
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.