Food insecurity and hunger have proven to be one of the most devastating effects of the pandemic. Even though many Americans became eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, during the pandemic, many still struggle to put food on the table. To address this, President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order Friday that would increase SNAP benefits for low-income households with children by 15%. That would equal an additional $ 100 of support every two months for a family with three children, according to a report released by the White House.
Families who qualify for aid have children who would have received free or subsidized breakfast and lunch five days a week at school, but who are not receiving that meal due to pandemic-related school closings. Biden is also asking the US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the SNAP program, to allow states to increase benefits for individuals. The stimulus package that former President Donald Trump signed in late December increased the maximum amount of SNAP benefits that people could receive by 115%. For a family of four, the maximum benefit increased to $ 782 per month from $ 680 per month. However, about 40% of the lowest income SNAP recipients who were already receiving the maximum amount of benefits did not qualify for emergency benefits because their income was not low enough. Biden is requesting that the USDA make these approximately 12 million Americans eligible for the enhanced level of benefits. Biden’s actions come as an estimated 50 million were living in food-insecure households in the fall of 2020, according to projections from Feeding America. That’s an increase of 35 million people in 2019. Nearly 30 million adults (14% of all American adults) reported that they had not eaten enough in the past seven days, according to the latest Household Pulse Survey released by the US. U.S. Census Bureau on January 6. Some 19 million American adults weren’t sure they would be able to pay for food in the next four weeks, the survey reported. More than 3 million families with children indicated that their children often do not eat enough because the family cannot afford to buy food. “Because hunger makes it difficult for people to return to work, and because food aid programs power US food businesses and workers, these actions to increase the federal national food safety net will help the nation to better rebuild the economy, ”said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, a national nonprofit anti-hunger organization. “This is a great victory for the hunger movement,” he added in a statement.