On Friday last week, President Biden signed an Executive Order to address food hardship across America. This action not only aims to improve two existing COVID-relief efforts, but sends an important message that improving food security is a priority for this administration. The Executive Order:
- Seeks to improve SNAP emergency allotments (EAs) authorized under the March 2020 Families First Act to reach households with the most trouble affording food. As you may remember from our prior updates, the Trump administration did not allow states to provide EAs to households that already receive the maximum SNAP benefit (the lowest income families!). USDA must work with the Justice Department to review the prior policy. The timing of any changes and the amount of EAs that households would receive is unclear.
- Asks USDA to increase the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit by 15 percent. P-EBT, a new program launched in the spring, has been a crucial resource, providing families funds to buy groceries when their children are missing out on free or reduced-price school meals due to remote learning.
- Directs the USDA to move quickly on a re-evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, which fall short of what many participants need to purchase and prepare healthy meals. Benefits are currently based on the Thrifty Food Plan, which has not been adequately updated over time to reflect the actual cost of a nutritious diet. Updating benefits levels would help ensure that SNAP better responds to households’ food needs over the long term and provides desperately needed support for tens of millions of people struggling to put food on the table but is also an effective trigger for jump-starting the economy.
We are encouraged to see these directives and hope they are a sign of more effective anti-hunger initiatives to come!
The end of the day tomorrow (Saturday, January 30th) is the deadline to submit your thoughts through our community feedback tool. Your thoughts and comments are the first step towards our upcoming Strategic Planning process. The feedback tool has 15 questions and will take 10-15 minutes depending on the length of your response. All responses are anonymous and confidential. Thank you!