HEROES Act Includes Academy Priorities to Help Keep Healthy Food on Americans' Tables

05/13/2020 - The Academy supports critical provisions to address rising rates of food insecurity and economic distress outlined in the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), and urges members of Congress to vote for its timely passage. The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives yesterday and includes many Academy priorities requested in a letter sent to lawmakers in April, including strengthening and protecting critical federal nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, school meals, the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

The Academy is particularly focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color and supporting the country’s food safety net can help mitigate some of that impact.

Key highlights in the bill include:

SNAP

  • Temporarily increases SNAP benefits by 15 percent;
  • Temporarily increases the SNAP minimum benefit from $16 to $30;
  • Blocks implementation of three administrative rules that, if finalized, would significantly decrease access to the program;
  • Temporarily allows SNAP benefits to be used to purchase hot foods from authorized SNAP retailers; and
  • Temporarily allow SNAP-Ed staff to support meal distribution activities for commodity or child nutrition programs.

School Meals and CACFP

  • Provides funds to school food authorities and CACFP sponsors to support financial challenges due to lost revenue from lower than expected meal service; and
  • P-EBT extended through the beginning of the next school year and benefits extended to children in childcare settings through CACFP.

WIC

  • Temporarily increases the cash value benefit for the purchase of fruit and vegetables.

Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs

  • Provides $20 million for OAA senior nutrition programs; and
  • Provides $10 million for OAA health promotion and disease prevention services.

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program

  • Provides $10 million to Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics to support increased staffing and equipment needs, additional home-delivered meals and transportation.

The Emergency Food Assistance Program

  • Provides $25 million for Farm to Food Bank to harvest and transport priority agriculture products.

Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations

  • Allows participation for tribal member households already participating in SNAP who cannot access approved SNAP retailer stores to access FDPIR.

As the nation continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, the Academy applauds the work of Congress to take swift action to provide the authority and resources necessary to meet the needs of struggling communities. Congress must continue to be nimble in its efforts as Americans adjust to the impacts of this unprecedented pandemic. Passing the HEROES Act is a critical step in this next phase of response.

Read more information on the HEROES Act.