09/23/2020 - Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver authority for both child nutrition programs and WIC, as well as the Pandemic EBT program through September 2021. The bill also provides some flexibilities to the SNAP program that provide efficiencies during COVID-19 operations. The Academy calls for swift passage of this bill in the U.S. Senate to ensure children have access to healthy food while keeping frontline workers and families safe.
Skyrocketing unemployment and increasing food insecurity, coupled with school and childcare closures, have left many families wondering where they will get their next meal. This is particularly concerning because the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted minority communities already at greater risk for food insecurity.
The Academy has been participating in ongoing efforts to ensure food access during the COVID-19 national emergency, including calling for the extension of waivers that allow for child nutrition programs and WIC operational flexibilities. From the release of the Academy's school reopening issue brief to a recent communication sending nearly 1,700 member letters to Secretary Perdue, the Academy has consistently advocated for these critical nutrition programs. The language in the continuing resolution reaffirms that members of Congress support the need for program flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The P-EBT program, which provides funding to families who would normally participate in national school nutrition programs but are unable to due to COVID-19 school closures, has proven to help complement efforts by child nutrition program providers and is critical to ensure that no child goes hungry during the national emergency. This bill extended the P-EBT through September 2021 and made key improvements to the program.
Although the continuing resolution includes crucial extensions to address childhood food insecurity and provides flexibilities in SNAP program operations, Congress must act soon to pass a more comprehensive stimulus spending bill that will increase access to food for our most vulnerable citizens across all life stages, including seniors. The Academy continues to advocate for an increase in the maximum allotment of SNAP to help mitigate the significant increase in food insecurity experienced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.