As COVID-19 ravages communities across our nation, more children are going to bed hungry and worrying about where their next meal will come from.
But hunger in our nation didn’t start with COVID-19. Even before the pandemic began, more than 11 million children went to bed hungry and 22 million children relied on free or reduced price meals every day. However, this pandemic is making hunger and poverty more widespread. That’s because too many families are losing their jobs, wages are being slashed, and more families are falling into or deeper into poverty. What’s worse–because schools are closed nationwide—more children are being left without reliable access to healthy meals to meet their basic needs. For many families, this crisis has only made it harder to put healthy and nutritious food on the table.
This is why federal nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are so important and must be expanded to help more families during this crisis and beyond. Right now, 1.2 million households with children have no income besides SNAP benefits and 17 million children rely on SNAP for nutritious meals. For these families, SNAP is more than a benefit–it is a critical lifeline.
While the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included important assistance, Congress must make additional investments in SNAP to ensure all children and families can access the nutritious food they need to survive. In the next COVID-19 relief package, we have consistently urged Congress to:
- Increase the maximum SNAP allotment by 15 percent;
- Raise the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30; and
- Suspend all SNAP administrative rules that would terminate or weaken benefits, including waiving harsh and counterproductive work requirements.
These expanded investments will not only help feed our children, but also put money back into the economy. For every $1 invested in SNAP, $1.50 is returned to the economy–making it one of the most effective supports during an economic crisis. Boosting SNAP benefits to alleviate child hunger and poverty is not only the morally right thing to do, it is also good for our economy. Our children and families deserve expanded SNAP benefits now and in the future.