Proposed HEALS Act Fails to Aid Unprecedented Food Insecurity

August 5, 2020 | New York

The HEALS Act – the Senate GOP’s proposed Relief Package – does not include any funding for nutrition programs. The proposed plan fails to acknowledge that, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, SNAP has proven to be an invaluable resource in providing families with food. 

New Yorkers continue to struggle with food insecurity daily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April 2019 and April 2020, the number of New York households participating in SNAP increased by 26%. According to the U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, between July 9 and July 14, 893,024 New York households with children reported receiving free groceries or free meals. 37% of those households, despite receiving free meals, reported “sometimes” or “often” not having enough food. The two largest providers of food were schools/children’s programs and food pantries/banks, providing food to 524,828 and 347,020 New York households with children respectively. The incredibly large number of households relying on free foods from schools/organizations shows that food insecurity is an increasing problem. Congress should be increasing SNAP benefits to meet the increasing need for food to feed families now more than ever.

SNAP helps support the most vulnerable communities. In 2015, 84% of SNAP recipients were households with children, elderly people, or people with disabilities. SNAP is particularly useful to low-income families, as it provides them with a higher purchasing power. SNAP has also proven to be beneficial to the economy. Every dollar in federally-funded SNAP benefits creates $1.89 in economic activity. Most importantly, SNAP reduces food insecurity among children. Children in households that participated in SNAP for at least six months were one-third less likely to be food insecure than children whose households have not yet received their SNAP benefits. Furthermore, children whose households received SNAP benefits were four times more likely to be food secure later on than children whose households did not receive SNAP benefits.

On May 12, the House Democrats introduced the fourth COVID-19 relief package, known as the HEROES Act. The relief package includes numerous additions to existing food nutrition programs, including:

  • $10 billion dollars of additional funding to SNAP through September 30, 2021
  • Increasing SNAP minimum benefits by 15% through September 30, 2021
  • Increasing the minimum monthly SNAP benefit to $30 
  • $3 billion dollars of additional funding for child nutrition programs
    • Emergency funding to school meal programs
    • Extension of the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)  program 
  • $1.1 billion dollars of additional funding to meet the increased demand for the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • $150 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAO) through September 30, 2021

Children’s Defense Fund-New York stands in opposition to the GOP’s proposed relief plan. The HEROES Act, which the House of Representatives passed, is much more comprehensive in protecting the nation’s children and reducing food insecurity. We believe that children who are healthy and safe will have more opportunities to thrive.