SNAP rolls rose as coronavirus spread across U.S.

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)

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. (No paywall)

Survey: Unrelenting food insecurity during pandemic

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)

Half of SNAP recipients can buy groceries online

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)

House votes to double coronavirus payments to agriculture

Senate Republicans will ignore the "unserious" $3-trillion coronavirus relief bill passed along party lines by the House in favor of steps such as liability shields for employers, said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The House bill included $16.5 billion for cash payments to farmers and ranchers, double the amount in the package now awaiting approval by the White House budget office.(No paywall)

Two major meat processors part of USDA’s $1.2-billion Food Box program

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)

SNAP enrollment of 50 million possible if pandemic is as bad as Great Recession

The huge job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic — 22 million Americans out of work in just four weeks — may be followed by the highest SNAP enrollment ever as people seek help buying food. Participation would near 50 million people if the same portion of the population receives food stamps as during the Great Recession. (No paywall)

Hunger relief will come in the form of the ‘harvest box’

The government will spend $300 million a month to buy fresh produce, dairy and meat products that will be packaged into a box for food banks and other charities to give to hungry Americans, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Some $3 billion will be spent on purchases of surplus foods for donation in an initiative that resembles the "America's Harvest Box" idea promoted by Perdue for delivering a portion of SNAP benefits.(No paywall)

Online purchasing expands to one-third of SNAP recipients

The USDA added Florida and Idaho to its list of states where SNAP recipients are allowed to purchase groceries online. Ten states, with 34.5 percent of food stamp enrollment, now have government approval of the online option, which could reduce the risk of coronavirus exposure.(No paywall)