July 01, 2020

Reps. Lee, Fudge and Katko along with 161 Members of Congress urge an increase in food assistance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Washington, D.C. – Congressmembers Barbara Lee (CA-13), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and John Katko (NY-24) delivered a letter to Congressional leaders today urging an increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to address rising food insecurity and unprecedented demand at food banks across the country. The letter is addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and signed by 164 Members of Congress.

The letter urges Congressional leaders to increase the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent and increase the minimum monthly benefit to $30 throughout the duration of this crisis, as well as suspend administrative rules with the potential to weaken program eligibility.  

SNAP is the largest and most effective nutrition program in the country, serving as our nation’s first line of defense against hunger and food insecurity.  According to the latest Census data, SNAP lifted 3.4 million individuals out of poverty in 2017, including 1.5 million children.

The current public health and economic crisis has deepened the inequities that existed long before its onset, with households of color disproportionately impacted.  In April 2020, more than one in three households with children, and approximately two in five Black and Hispanic households with children, were food insecure. With schools and childcare centers closed, families are stretched even further to find the resources needed to feed their children who regularly receive meals at school and childcare.

“We are facing the worst economic and public health crisis in generations, and people need help now,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “With so many people losing jobs, income and food security, it is critical that Congress ensures a basic level of nutritional support for those struggling in our communities.”

“Prior to the pandemic, nearly 40 million Americans struggled with hunger, a number that is surely increasing with each passing day,” said Rep. Fudge. “SNAP is our best tool to fight food insecurity on behalf of hungry Americans at a time when they need help most.  By boosting SNAP benefits and suspending harmful rules that limit eligibility for the program, we can avoid preventable mass hunger, alleviate the stress on our food banks, and stimulate the economy.”

“I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort alongside Reps. Lee and Fudge to urge Congressional Leaders to expand SNAP benefits for those adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Katko. “With families in Central New York and across the county currently facing significant financial hardship, it is imperative that Congress act to maintain food security for vulnerable members of our community. Increasing SNAP benefits will help to keep food on the table in millions of American homes through the duration of this crisis.”

"FRAC joins in calling on Senators to boost SNAP benefits as soon as possible to limit the depth and duration of the food hardship and economic dislocation Americans are experiencing in the wake of COVID-19,” said Luis Guardia, President of Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). “Increasing SNAP maximum and minimum benefit levels and suspending harmful SNAP rules changes are crucial pieces of the package to jump start the robust recovery America needs.”

“The increased need for food assistance during this crisis is starkly illustrated by the increase in demand at the Feeding America network of food banks across the country,” said Kate Leone, Chief Government Relations Officer at Feeding America. “Food banks are a key partner in addressing hunger, but for every meal our network provides, SNAP provides nine.  A temporary increase in SNAP benefits will help families struggling to put food on the table and prevent even deeper financial crises while simultaneously providing needed stimulus in struggling local economies. We are pleased to see bipartisan support for increasing SNAP benefits along with other key supports including increased food assistance through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and child nutrition programs through pandemic-EBT authority and are eager for this help to reach the people we serve.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.