Foodlink and anti-hunger organizations across the country continue to plead their case to Congress this week — asking for critical support to federal nutrition assistance progams to help feed families and boost the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foodlink joined two of its neighboring food banks in writing a guest essay in various publications about its priorities in the next Coronavirus relief package. Thus far, legislation passed in the first three relief bills has given much-needed aid to low-income Americans in the short term — including boosts to SNAP in March and April. Anti-hunger advocates, however, would like to see the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) strengthened in two key ways — and throughout the duration of the economic downturn:
• Increasing SNAP benefits for all recipients by at least 15 percent.
• Increasing the SNAP minimum benefit from $16 to $30.
Foodlink is also advocating for a boost in funding in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The program, administered through the USDA, provides American-grown products to food banks nationwide, as well as storage and distribution funding. The products procured through TEFAP are free of charge for member agencies.
The Feeding America network will continue to need additional food and funds from the government to help meet increased need. Feeding America has analyzed the potential impact of the pandemic and predicts up to an additional 17.1 million people could experience food insecurity, many for the first time. This represents a 46 percent increase from the 37 million who were food insecure prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
In New York alone, 3,189,000 New Yorkers may face hunger this year, many for the first time— an increase of 1,023,000 people because of the pandemic. This would increase the rate of food insecurity by 47 percent raising the rate of food insecurity in New York to 16.3% percent.
For every meal provided by food banks, SNAP provides nine – a testament to just how much more effective and efficient SNAP is to increase food security and stimulate local economies. Every dollar spent in SNAP benefits helps generate between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity. Increasing the SNAP maximum benefit by 15 percent would stimulate our state’s economy and ensure New Yorker’s hunger have access to the meals they need.
If you would like to be a SNAP advocate, call your Congressman this week and ask that he supports increases to SNAP to feed our neighbors, and help our economy.