Some 6 million to 7 million people have joined the food stamp program since the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic recession hit the United States last spring, a growth rate for SNAP never seen before, said the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The think tank said enrollment exceeds 43 million people and is the highest since October 2017.
Congress created the P-EBT program early this year to help low-income parents buy food for their school-age children during coronavirus closures. Two high-ranking House Democrats said on Thursday the USDA would cut off benefits to students at schools that begin classes later than usual because of the pandemic.
The Trump administration should immediately extend two waivers that allow schools during the coronavirus pandemic to serve meals at no charge to students, whether in the cafeteria, the classroom, or as grab-and-go meals at the curbside, said former education secretary Arne Duncan on Monday.
Four dozen House Democrats warned the USDA against using its food box donation program "to distribute a self-promoting letter from the president" ahead of the Nov. 3 election, criticizing the idea as a political use of federal resources.
The Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway program, the Trump administration's response to hunger during the coronavirus pandemic, will run through Oct. 31 to use up the last of its $3 billion in funds, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Grocery prices will rise a modest 1.5 percent in 2021, close to the long-term average and half of the larger-than-usual increase expected this year, said the USDA in its first forecast of food inflation in the new year.
An unprecedented number of U.S. children — 13.9 million — are experiencing food insecurity and did not have sufficient food in late June due to the coronavirus pandemic, said an analysis from the Hamilton Project on Thursday. "This level of need merits a substantial and immediate public investment," said Lauren Bauer, a fellow at the Hamilton Project and author of the analysis. (No paywall)
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. (No paywall)
The government will spend $1.16 billion in July and August to buy surplus food at the farm level, package it, and donate it to food banks and other organizations for distribution to hungry Americans. In announcing the second round of the Farmers to Families Food Box program on Wednesday, the USDA said it was extending the contracts of "select vendors" from the first round, adding "a few" new vendors, and dropping some others. (No paywall)