Hastings, Lee, McGovern, Frankel, and Deutch Call for an Immediate Boost to Hunger Relief for Struggling Families in COVID Relief Package
(Washington, D.C.) Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), along with Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Ted Deutch (D-FL), led 62 of their colleagues in sending a letter urging House and Senate Leadership to include a funding increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutritional programs in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package under negotiation. As our nation faces a hunger crisis worsened by the growing toll this pandemic has taken, $5.5 billion in emergency food aid is dwindling despite the increasing number of families struggling to put food on the table. Bolstering federal nutrition programs like SNAP will provide short-term hunger relief, while preventing long-term health and economic harm to our most vulnerable. (Please find the letter below and attached).
The letter was endorsed by: Feeding America, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, Feeding South Florida, California Association of Food Banks, United Way of Palm Beach County, Alameda County Community Food Banks.
December 17, 2020
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
We have all seen the lines of Americans waiting for hours to receive food due to the struggles imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. Even before the pandemic, 37 million American households struggled with food insecurity, lacking consistent access to nutritious meals despite residing in the richest country in the world. While over 90 percent of food assistance in the U.S. comes from federal programs, charitable and community organizations on the frontlines are responding to tremendous need across the country. Additional federal relief from increasing SNAP and providing additional federal commodities for emergency food providers will feed hungry Americans and help food banks and other community partners keep pace with growing demand for nutritious meals. SNAP is proven to not only lift people out of poverty, but to deliver critically needed jobs and economic stimulus.
Earlier this year, Congress passed legislation to expand capacity to meet the surge in demand for food assistance caused by the COVID-19 crisis through Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Families First) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As approximately $5.5 billion in emergency food aid through food banks and other channels are winding down, the need to expand federal nutrition programs is increasingly urgent. The initial response to the pandemic provided much needed temporary assistance, but many of these short-term infusions are ending as the need for food assistance is at an all-time high. Congress must act swiftly to provide additional assistance by increasing benefits for SNAP, along with additional funding for programs such as TEFAP, as well as those that address child and senior nutrition, childcare and school nutrition, and food access for Indian Reservations and U.S. territories. Puerto Rico was already recording higher rates of food insecurity and poverty than the 50 states and the economic crisis means they are relying on federal food assistance more than ever, with capped funding that is insufficient to fully meet the significant and growing needs of residents of Puerto Rico.
The need is clear, and emergency and immediate funding as well as crucial administrative flexibilities have proven to alleviate the hunger crisis on our hands. Bolstering federal nutrition programs like SNAP will provide short-term hunger relief, while preventing long-term health and economic harm to our most vulnerable. These provisions should not sunset until the national and state emergency declarations are lifted. We must address the hunger crisis, while anticipating a long-term need for nutrition aid as we combat and recover from the immense economic and social upheaval.
With the holiday season and winter upon us, we cannot neglect one of the most basic needs. We look forward to working with you to get relief to those who need it most until we can be certain of a strong recovery.
 “'No end in sight': hunger surges in America amid a spiraling pandemic.” Nina Lakhani and Maanvi Singh. The Guardian. November 25, 2020. “Visualizing Food Insecurity. Diane Schanzenbach and Natalie Tomeh. Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research. July 14, 2020.
 Facts | SNAP Strengths. Food Research & Action Center (FRAC). 2020.
 “Economic Linkages: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Linkages with the General Economy.” USDA Economic Research Service. August 20, 2019.
 “Thousands in Texas line up in cars to receive food before Thanksgiving.” Danielle Garand. CBS News. November 16, 2020.
 “Food scarcity is on the rise in America as the economy reels.” Aimee Pinchee. CBS News. June 19, 2020.
 “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Economy: New Estimates of the SNAP Multiplier.” USDA Economic Research Service. July, 2019.
 “A $4.5 billion Trump food program is running out of money early, leaving families hungry and food assistance charities scrambling.” Laura Reiley & Gregg Jeffe. The Washington Post. December 8, 2020.
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.
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