Statement attributed to Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer
“Right now, millions of people in this country are choosing between putting food on the table and paying bills, like rent and utilities. Feeding America is the nation’s largest charitable domestic response to hunger, but food banks cannot meet the need for emergency food assistance on their own. We are deeply relieved that the bipartisan COVID relief deal includes an increase in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as additional funding so our network of food banks can continue to meet the increased need they are seeing every day. As our country continues to weather a once-in-a-generation public health and economic emergency, the bipartisan agreement is an important down payment to help provide the food assistance our neighbors need, but further action will also be necessary in the coming months.
“Our network of 200 food banks and 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs continue to help fill the meal gap left by lost wages and record-breaking grocery prices. Through this work, we know that this country is experiencing unprecedented food insecurity. SNAP is our nation’s best anti-hunger tool, and we strongly support the legislation’s increase in benefits. We also remain concerned that the economic crisis and increased need will continue beyond the six months provided for in this bill.
“Additionally, we support the bill’s inclusion of $400 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) — one of the largest sources of food for food banks. This funding is absolutely necessary as food banks prepare for a scheduled 50 percent reduction in food received from the government while at the same time, they face an average 60 percent increase in demand. The food purchase program in the legislation will help, but as we anticipate a gap of 8 billion meals between food bank supply and demand, we are eager to continue working with Congress and USDA on implementation of the funding provided to support producers impacted by COVID-19 and other measures to ensure that there is enough food on hand to help people in need.
“The bill includes additional critical investments in federal nutrition programs that we support, including important funding for territories and the expansion of online SNAP benefits. We also support the expansion of Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) to children under six deemed to be “enrolled” in childcare programs. The P-EBT program is essential to ensuring children are able to receive nutrition during out-of-school times. We are also pleased to see investments in senior nutrition, WIC, and school nutrition programs.
“The bipartisan legislation will provide much-needed short-term relief, and we urge its passage and enactment into law. As 2020 ends, we know the need for food assistance will continue. While this legislation is a welcome step forward, the government will need to take further action to ensure that our neighbors do not slip further into crisis in the coming months. We strongly support the nutrition provisions in this bill and believe they are a critical step toward ensuring people have the food they need to learn, succeed, and thrive.”
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 6.6 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.