Food stamp enrollment has surged by 6 million people since the pandemic hit the United States, said the USDA on Wednesday in its first update of SNAP participation in months. Some 42.9 million people received food stamps at latest count, the highest number since October 2017.
Amid the flurry of executive orders that marked his first 48 hours in office, President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will ask the USDA to expand two critical food-assistance programs, as hunger continues to plague millions during the pandemic. The orders will raise SNAP benefits and increase funds awarded through the Pandemic-EBT program, which transfers the dollar amount of school lunches onto debit cards to compensate for meals kids miss while schools are closed. The early moves confirm expectations that the new administration will be serious about tackling food insecurity, through both general financial assistance and targeted food aid.(No paywall)
Congress was expected to pass a $900 billion coronavirus package on Monday that includes a temporary 15-percent increase in SNAP benefits and up to $8.2 billion for farmers and ranchers. House and Senate leaders announced agreement on the package on Sunday evening. President-elect Biden, while applauding the package, said he will propose additional aid as soon as he takes office.
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.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue shows more enthusiasm for cutting SNAP enrollment than in making full use of food stamps to alleviate hunger during the pandemic, said the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) on Thursday. SNAP enrollment has rocketed to 43 million, the highest level since October 2017, and estimates of food insecurity have tripled because of the coronavirus.
With Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate confirmed, anti-hunger advocates say the presidential ticket is well equipped to tackle an urgent concern: food insecurity. Sen. Kamala Harris has consistently pushed for bolstering the social safety net, notably calling for the 15-percent increase in SNAP benefits that experts say would significantly reduce hunger. (No paywall)
Food stamp benefits will rise by 5.3 percent in October, to a maximum of $680 per month for a family of four in the continental United States, said the USDA Food and Nutrition Service on Wednesday. The cost-of-living adjustment was announced even as anti-hunger groups are calling for a temporary 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits during the pandemic.
Three Southern states — Virginia, Kentucky and Arkansas — are among the eight states nationwide with the lowest SNAP participation rates, says the Food Research and Action Center. The coronavirus pandemic "is exacerbating the already alarming rates of food insecurity in the Southern region," said a FRAC report that recommends expansion of federal nutrition programs, such as SNAP, WIC and school meals, to meet the need.
Food stamp enrollment climbed by 479,000 people, or 1.3 percent, in March, in the early days of combating the novel coronavirus and the economic slowdown that accompanied it, said the USDA. Experts have said the pandemic could result in the highest SNAP participation ever, topping the record of 47.6 million during fiscal 2013 during the slow recovery from the Great Recession.(No paywall)