Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, President, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2022 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra for extending the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration into July 2022.
This PHE extension during the continuing COVID-19 crisis is prudent and will help millions of struggling households to more easily access critical federal nutrition programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which have been essential to mitigating hunger during the pandemic.
Relief measures that Congress has tied to the duration of the PHE include SNAP Emergency Allotments and waivers that streamline access to SNAP and WIC such as more equitable SNAP access for college students and unemployed or underemployed adults.
WIC waivers tied to the PHE have allowed eligible families to access services remotely, via the phone or telehealth, instead of the pre-pandemic requirement to visit a WIC clinic. Waivers also have allowed flexibilities in the WIC shopping experience, enabling families to use their WIC benefits more fully amidst food supply chain issues and social distancing requirements.
Moreover, these temporary flexibilities have helped alleviate red tape for administrators, individuals, and families who have taken on so much during the pandemic.
But a steep “hunger cliff” looms. When the federal PHE ends, it is estimated that most SNAP participants will lose $82 a month in SNAP benefits.
FRAC calls on policymakers to take actions to address our country’s hunger crisis, which will likely only worsen when the temporary relief measures of the public health declaration ends.
The Food Research & Action Center improves the nutrition, health, and well-being of people struggling against poverty-related hunger in the United States through advocacy, partnerships, and by advancing bold and equitable policy solutions. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.