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Families First Coronavirus Response Act

April 2, 2021 - 11:53am

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday took action to provide $1 billion per month in additional food assistance to an estimated 25 million people in very low-income households that are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and struggling to put food on the table due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The estimated increase in food assistance for New York State for one month is $66.2 million and for six months it is $397.1 million.

Starting this month, households that had not received at least $95 per month in increased benefits through emergency allotments during the pandemic – because they were already at or close to receiving the current maximum benefit – will now be eligible to receive additional benefits. Benefit levels will remain unchanged for households that have been receiving increased payments of at least $95 per month.

States may need a few weeks to update their systems and get the additional benefits to participants.

“The emergency SNAP increases authorized by Congress last year were not being distributed equitably, and the poorest households – who have the least ability to absorb the economic shocks brought about by COVID – received little to no emergency benefit increases,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“As part of President Biden’s commitment to deliver economic relief, and ensure every family can afford to put food on the table, today’s actions will provide much-needed support for those who need it most.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act authorized emergency allotments to SNAP households to help address temporary food needs during the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, USDA has issued about $29 billion in additional benefits, to bring all SNAP households up to the maximum benefit for their household size. Unfortunately, households already at the maximum SNAP benefit received no additional support. Among households that received little to no benefit increase, about 40 percent have children, 20 percent include someone who is elderly and 15 percent include someone who is disabled.

On Jan. 22, President Biden, issued his Executive Order on Economic Relief Related to the COVID-19 pandemic, directing all federal agencies to consider administrative actions to better address the current economic crisis resulting from the pandemic. At that time, the White House called on USDA to consider allowing larger Emergency Allotments for the lowest income SNAP households.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, USDA is committed to transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on: more resilient local and regional food production; fairer markets for all producers; ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities; building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices; making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America; committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

April 22, 2020 - 12:35pm

From USDA:

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced emergency benefit increases have reached $2 billion per month for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households across all 50 states and three territories to increase food security during the coronavirus national emergency.

These emergency benefits represent a 40-percent increase in overall monthly SNAP benefits, significantly increasing food purchasing power for American families. 

“These are unprecedented times for American families who are facing joblessness and hunger," Secretary Perdue said. "USDA is providing a 40-percent increase in SNAP benefits to ensure that low-income individuals have enough food to feed themselves and their families during this national emergency."

Background:

Currently, a household with two adults, three children, and no income can receive the maximum benefit of $768. However, due to reportable income and other factors, the average five-person household receives significantly less, $528.

These emergency benefits would provide the average five-person household an additional $240 monthly in food purchasing power, bringing the average household up to the same benefit level as households already receiving the maximum. 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), signed into law by President Trump, provided for the issuance of emergency allotments in response to COVID-19. Across the United States, emergency allotments total nearly $2 billion per month, which is in addition to approximately $4.5 billion in benefits already provided to SNAP households each month. 

All SNAP households that are eligible to receive less than the maximum benefit will receive the emergency allotment supplement to bring them up to the maximum. By law, SNAP households are not permitted to receive more than the maximum allotment.

SNAP emergency allotments allow states to raise benefits to the maximum amount for the household’s size for up to two months, and USDA is providing additional guidance today to states that want to further extend these emergency allotments month by month as prescribed by the law.

Hawaii -- approved last Friday -- was the final state agency authorized to provide the emergency allotments, which are now authorized in all 50 states, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia.

States could request to provide an emergency allotment for current SNAP households beginning in March. USDA is continuing to work closely with states so that supplements are provided in subsequent months as this public health emergency warrants, as outlined in FFCRA. 

Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of actions that USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has taken to uphold the USDA’s commitment to “Do Right and Feed Everyone” during this national emergency. Other actions include:

  • Providing more than 227 million pounds of food – valued at $243 million through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), with another $850 million available from the FFCRA and Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Act.
  • Launching Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) to provide the value of school breakfast and lunch to families eligible for free and reduce-price lunch;
  • Issuing Disaster Household Distributions, food targeted to meet specific needs when traditional channels of food are unavailable, to 16 States and territories, and 29 tribes;
  • Providing more than one million meals a week to rural children through public-private partnership Meals to You;
  • Allowing states to serve free meals to children in all areas across more than 35,000 feeding sites nation-wide;
  • Maximizing flexibilities, such as parent-pickup and meal times requirements, for the free meals provided through schools and other providers; 
  • Increasing access to online purchasing by expanding the online purchasing pilot to cover half of all SNAP households;
  • Debuting “Meals for Kids” interactive site finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed; and
  • Providing administrative flexibilities in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to allow for social distancing and for State to more quickly process new applications.
These actions and more are part of USDA’s focus on service during the COVID-19 outbreak. For additional information on the many actions FNS has taken to respond to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/coronavirus or follow us @USDANutrition.

FNS administers 15 nutrition assistance programs that leverage American’s agricultural abundance to ensure children and low-income individuals and families have nutritious food to eat. FNS also co-develops the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which provide science-based nutrition recommendations and serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy.

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