Boost SNAP benefits by 15 percent, groups ask Senate

An increase in SNAP benefits “must be part of an effective, comprehensive response to Covid-19,” said 2,500 anti-hunger, medical, religious, labor, farm, and consumer groups in a letter to Senate leaders. Republican senators, who blocked recent proposals by House Democrats for higher SNAP benefits, are expected to decide soon whether to draft a new coronavirus relief bill.

“The lines for food at emergency feeding sites offer a picture of the human suffering that data can only begin to explain,” said the letter in calling for a temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits. “This crisis demands a response that is commensurate with its scope and seriousness. For every one meal provided through the Feeding America food bank network, SNAP can provide nine meals on the normal rails of commerce.”

One in five U.S. households reports often or sometimes running out of food, a food insecurity rate that is roughly double the pre-coronavirus level, according to the Covid Impact Survey. Its latest round of polling reports that insecurity rates are highest among households with children, income of less than $30,000, without a high school diploma, and among Hispanic households.

Along with the increase in SNAP benefits, the letter asked for a suspension of administration plans to tighten SNAP eligibility rules and for more funding for child nutrition and food donations.