01/22/2021 - President Joe Biden signed today an executive order that will help put healthy food on the table for many Americans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This order expands the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program designed to provide critical support for low-income children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school, but have had their access to school and child care programs disrupted by the pandemic.
In addition, President Biden is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow larger emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program allotments for the lowest-income households and to update food assistance benefits to reflect the true cost of a basic healthy diet. These are critical Academy priorities needed to address the nation's food security and health disparity emergencies exacerbated by the pandemic.
The executive order also called for:
- The U.S. Department of the Treasury to consider changing its delivery structure and focus on getting relief to the 8 million Americans who still have not received the financial assistance to which they are entitled
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to consider pausing federal collections on overpayments and debts from approximately 2 million veterans
- The U.S. Department of Labor to consider clarifying that workers who refuse unsafe working conditions can still receive unemployment insurance
- The establishment of an interagency benefit coordination structure.
Americans are experiencing record-breaking food insecurity rates, impacting 29 million adults and nearly 12 million children and disproportionately impacting minority households. To successfully address this issue, it is critical to expand and strengthen federal nutrition programs like P-EBT, SNAP, WIC, school meals and senior nutrition programs. This executive order builds upon efforts to strengthen and protect SNAP after USDA announced the dismissal of two pending rules, opposed by the Academy in September 2019 and December 2019, that would have decreased access to both SNAP and school meals to millions of people.
The Academy applauds these administrative efforts to swiftly address the disruption to food access caused by this public health crisis. The Academy looks forward to continued work with members of the 117th U.S. Congress and the Biden-Harris Administration to meet the food and nutrition needs of the American public.
To read more about the Academy's requests to Congress during the COVID-19 national emergency.