Statement Attributed to Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer
As the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization of 200 member food banks and 60,000 partner pantries and meal programs, Feeding America knows that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the most important and efficient way to provide help to families and local economies during this crisis. We support the inclusion of a 15-percent increase in the SNAP maximum benefit in the HEROES Act, as well as an increase of the minimum SNAP benefit to $30. We also support the blocking of three administrative rules that, if finalized, would eliminate or severely limited food support for millions of households. The latest survey from our food bank network shows that we are seeing an average increase in demand of 60 percent across the country, with many families seeking charitable assistance for the first time. These three SNAP provisions are all essential to helping alleviate the increased demand on food banks during this crisis.
SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger for families who are low-income. In fact, for every meal the Feeding America network provides, SNAP provides nine. SNAP has an unparalleled ability to respond to economic downswings, and though we are pleased the bill includes an increase in benefits, we believe the length of that increase should be tied to our economic recovery. We worry that the provision as currently written does not contemplate another surge of need at food banks across the country.
The bill also includes $150 million to help local food banks meet the dramatically increased need for food assistance through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), but it does not include any additional funding for storage and distribution or long-term capacity for food banks as we prepare for prolonged demand. Moreover, the bill includes new language that could jeopardize our ability to defray some of the costs related to TEFAP. While the additional TEFAP food will help, our network continues to face increased costs resulting from the pandemic while our volunteer base has diminished. We look forward to working with the House and Senate to address these concerns as the bill moves through the process.
As unemployment claims surpass 33 million people, more and more families are facing the difficult reality of not having the resources to afford to keep food on the table. As the charitable sector does its best to meet the demands of soaring rates of hunger, the HEROES Act is a positive step forward for the people we serve. We stand ready to help further strengthen this important legislation and encourage quick action from Congress.
Please contact one of our media representatives or call 800-771-2303
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.