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)
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)
One in five US households say they often or sometimes run out of food, a persistently elevated level of food insecurity as the nation faces its fourth month of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Covid Impact Survey. "Despite some public benefits in place, this is still very high," said Nick Hart, president of the Data Foundation, which launched the survey.(No paywall)
Online SNAP purchasing has seen phenomenal growth during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to reduce participants' exposure to the disease. With the Wednesday addition of 13 states to the program, the USDA has now approved proposals from 36 states and the District of Columbia to make online purchasing available. (No paywall)
Two of the largest meat processors in the country, Tyson Foods and Cargill Meat Solutions, are among roughly 200 "approved suppliers" for a USDA initiative to buy surplus fresh produce, dairy products and pre-cooked chicken and pork for distribution to needy Americans. The USDA said it approved $1.2 billion in contracts for the Farmers to Families Food Box program but did not list individual awards.(No paywall)