Statement attributed to Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Office
"Feeding America is relieved that Congress swiftly passed the much-needed Families First Coronavirus Response Act and looks forward to President Trump signing the bill into law. As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, our network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 partner pantries and meal programs across the country are currently on the frontlines of the growing need in our communities. More than 37 million people in America are already struggling with hunger. For them and millions of others, this pandemic means the very real danger of lost wages, further difficulty accessing enough food, and an increased reliance on food banks to meet their nutritional needs. Passing this bill is an important first step toward providing our network with the needed food, funds, and flexibility to immediately help people in our communities.
"The legislation includes $1 billion in nutrition assistance at this critical time. Specifically, it includes $400 million in funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – a program that is a key public-private-charitable partnership that helps USDA, farmers, and food banks connect nutritious food with people in need. In addition, the bill provides critical flexibilities to federal nutrition programs – such as school meals and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – which are absolutely necessary for individuals to maintain access to necessary nutrition. These flexibilities are vital for our network to operate in accordance with advice from public health professionals.
"As congressional and administration leaders have already noted, this legislation is a first step. We all know the need will only increase across the country in the coming weeks. With schools closed in 39 states and the District of Columbia and extensive job disruptions, we know the demand placed on food banks will grow exponentially. Lost wages or sudden expenses due to illness will be increasingly burdensome for the millions of people in America who live paycheck to paycheck, especially when, according to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of Americans do not have enough cash on hand to cover a $400 emergency expense.
"Federal nutrition programs like SNAP — the first line of defense against hunger for millions of people who are low-income – will be the cornerstone to ensuring that people facing hunger are able to get the food they need during this pandemic and the potential economic downturn that will follow. For every meal the Feeding America network of 200 food banks provides, SNAP provides nine. It is only through a strong charitable system and deep government investment in federal nutrition programs that our country will be able to help the most vulnerable children, seniors, and families in our nation.
"We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to continue to develop policy solutions that strengthen our public and private partnership to ensure that no person in America goes hungry during this crisis."
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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.