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January 22, 2021 - 12:32pm
posted by Press Release in USDA, SNAP, hunger, covid-19, news.

Press release:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced several efforts today to expand nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In support of President Biden’s call to action on hunger and with authorities provided by Congress, USDA is increasing the Pandemic-EBT benefit by approximately 15 percent, providing more money for low-income families and millions of children missing meals due to school closures.

Separately, in response to this national emergency, USDA is looking at ways to increase Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to all participants, especially lowest-income households and those struggling to afford a healthy diet for their families.

As a part of the end of year COVID-19 relief package, Congress bolstered food assistance programs, including boosting monthly SNAP benefits by 15 percent and provided new funding for food banks and school and childcare meals.

USDA is committed to implementing these changes, but the measures alone will not solve the food hardship so many Americans are experiencing. Today, some 29 million adults and as many as 12 million children live in households struggling to afford food. More than 1 in 5 Black and Latino adults and many more children report food insecurity. These numbers continue to worsen each month.

USDA is committed to working with states and supporting governors, school districts, food banks and other key partners to deploy food assistance to struggling families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in the months ahead. The efforts announced today are detailed below.

P-EBT Benefit Increase

Upon taking office, the Biden administration took immediate action to deploy the emergency resources and new flexibilities Congress has provided. Established under Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by Congress in March, the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) connects low-income families with kids with food dollars equivalent to the value of the meals missed due to COVID-related school and childcare closures.

To date, the program has capped P-EBT benefit amounts at $5.86 per child per school day and many households have had trouble claiming benefits. USDA will increase the current daily benefit amount by approximately 15 percent to tackle the serious problem of child food insecurity during this school year when need is greatest.

“As soon as the President took office, he called for immediate action on the hunger crisis gripping vulnerable families and children," said Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services.

"The announcement today provides more food dollars directly to food insecure kids living in low-income households who are missing critical meals due to school closures."

SNAP Emergency Allotments to States

Separately, USDA will begin working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review its authority to allow states to provide extra SNAP benefits through Emergency Allotments to the lowest-income households.

Last spring, Congress passed emergency increases to SNAP benefits to help address food insecurity during the pandemic. But those benefit increases have not been made available to the lowest-income households who make up 37 percent of SNAP households. Increasing SNAP benefits will not only help families most in need, but it is also a critical and effective form of economic stimulus.

recent USDA study found that in a slow economy “$1 billion in new SNAP benefits would lead to an increase of $1.54 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—54 above and beyond the new benefits.”

Moreover, SNAP benefits reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009 and had a significant effect on reducing child poverty.

Revising the Thrifty Food Plan Per 2018 Farm Bill

Finally, some 43 million Americans count on SNAP to help put food on the table. Currently, however, USDA's Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for determining SNAP benefits, is out of date with the economic realities most struggling households face when trying to buy and prepare healthy food. As a result, the benefits may fall short of what a healthy, adequate diet costs for many households today, especially in high cost of living areas.

Therefore, as directed by the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA will begin the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the cost of a healthy basic diet today. USDA believes federal nutrition programs and benefits should support a basic healthy diet.

Call for More Congressional Action

While these actions will help address food insecurity for tens of millions of households nationwide, more is needed to solve the hunger crisis in America. As part of his American Rescue Plan proposal, President Biden is calling on Congress to:

  • Extend the 15 percent SNAP benefit increase;
  • Invest another $3 billion through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to help vulnerable mothers and kids get the food they need;
  • Look for creative ways to support restaurants as a critical link in the food supply chain to help feed families in need;
  • Provide U.S. Territories with $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance funding.
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.

May 6, 2019 - 1:16pm

Four churches in the Corfu/Pembroke area are combining efforts to make people aware of hunger in their own hometown.

On Saturday, May 11, the Corfu United Presbyterian Church, Indian Falls United Methodist Church and St. Maximilian Kolbe Church Corfu and East Pembroke are sponsoring a Walk Hunger Away 5K.

Deborah Russ, of Corfu, a member of the Corfu United Presbyterian Church, is the event organizer, with help from volunteers in the other churches.

She explained there used to be a Crop Walk in Genesee County, which is an international effort to fight hunger.

“But there is such a need in our own area,” Russ said.

Proceeds from Saturday’s 5K will be divided among three food programs in Corfu, Pembroke and Falls.

The Corfu United Presbyterian Church maintains a food pantry, which is open at 9 a.m. the third Saturday and at 5:30 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month.

The Pembroke Bagged Meal Program provides weekend meals to more than 65 children in the Pembroke Central School District.

“We started out with middle school and have expanded to include high school kids,” Russ said. “Now we are hoping to include the primary school.”

St. Maximillian Kolbe Church supports the Food Pantry with a monetary donation every month, Russ said. She said a lot of senior citizens benefit from the Food Pantry.

The third program to be helped by Saturday’s walk is the Rise Against Hunger, for which Indian Falls United Methodist Church packs thousands of meals for people in developing nations.

Russ said it is their hope participants in the Hunger Walk will get sponsors, but it isn’t a requirement.

“We just want people to come and learn about hunger,” she said. “They can walk with no money or they can make a $5 donation.”

There are no expenses incurred so every penny made will be distributed to the three programs.

Also on Saturday, the Corfu Girl Scout Troop 42035 will sponsor a food drive at the Corfu United Presbyterian Church.

Donations of nonperishable items or single-serve items for the Pembroke Bagged Meal Program are suggested. Examples of requested single-serve items are mini cereal bars, fruit cups, granola bars, noodle/pasta cups and juice boxes.

For information, contact Valerie Mutka at (585) 813-4075.

Registration for the Hunger Away 5K is at 9:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. The route starts at Corfu United Presbyterian Church and returns there. It is located at 63 Alleghany Road.

The walk is unique in that six stops are planned along the route, where walkers can stop and learn important facts about the three programs the 5K supports.

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