Attributed to Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer
“The HEALS Act fails to address the increased need for nutrition assistance the Feeding America network of food banks is continuing to see across the country. Early in this crisis, our food banks experienced an unprecedented spike in demand, and there continues to be a sustained increase averaging 50 percent in the number of people seeking charitable food. As the largest domestic hunger relief and food rescue organization, we know that the most efficient and effective way to reduce and prevent hunger is through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Without a 15 percent increase in the maximum SNAP benefit, the bill fails families facing hunger.
“SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger and vital to the work of our network of 200 member food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs serving every congressional district in the country. Last year, our network served more than 4 billion meals; yet for every meal we provide, SNAP provides nine. We have no doubt that the need for assistance has increased, and food banks are doing their part to help – from March 1 to June 30 of this year, we have served an estimated 1.9 billion meals – but food banks can’t do it alone. SNAP is an efficient and cost-effective way to help meet the need and stimulate local economic activity. During the last recession, for every dollar spent on the SNAP program, $1.70 was generated in economic activity.
“In addition, this bill does not do enough to support food banks. It does not include an increase in food available through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and omits the necessary capacity support that will allow food banks to continue to meet the increased need in communities all across the country. The people we serve – many who are visiting our food banks for the first time – are waiting in hours-long lines for food. Not increasing investment in food, transportation, and storage, as well as the capacity to help our network feed millions more families during this economic downturn is a missed opportunity.
“As the new school year approaches and districts are struggling with further disruptions, the bill also fails to include the necessary supports for children to access meals. Pandemic EBT has been critical for families and allows states to provide resources to participants enrolled in free and reduced-price lunch when schools are closed. With millions of children out of school and plans to reopen this fall uncertain, kids are not receiving the one reliable meal they can count on each day. Pandemic EBT should be extended to ensure families are able to provide their children with the nutritious food they need during this difficult time.
“Feeding America estimates that an additional 17 million people could be food insecure in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, totaling 54 million people struggling with hunger – including 18 million children. Food banks and other community organizations cannot meet the need on their own. Charity, business, and the government must work together to ensure that families in this country – many of whom are facing hunger for the first time due to this pandemic – are not forced to choose between putting food on the table or a roof over their head. We stand ready to work with our senators to ensure a final stimulus bill includes the policies necessary to help the millions of people we serve.”
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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 5.2 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.