A conversation about SNAP and the pandemic

May 7, 2020

Bread for the World speaks with new mom Jane Adams about the role SNAP and other domestic safety-net programs can play in mitigating the effects of COVID-19. Adams is a senior domestic policy analyst at Bread.

Q. An increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was not part of the relief package passed by Congress in late March to help Americans struggling with the coronavirus. Explain why it is necessary that Congress increase funding for SNAP in the next relief package? How does SNAP alleviate hunger?

A. The poorest individuals are most vulnerable to increased food insecurity during increased unemployment and a struggling economy; however, they are the least likely to receive financial assistance from the government.

SNAP is one of the most effective ways to reach low-income households and provide help in recessions. That is why we are recommending Congress immediately increase the SNAP maximum benefit by 15 percent.

Increasing SNAP benefits help people afford nutritious food throughout the month, especially when people are staying at home and are unable to regularly get food from other sources like schools and restaurants. 

Q. Aside from an increase in funding for SNAP, what other domestic programs should Congress fund to help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus in the United States?

A. Schools are closed across the United States, which means that low-income children are not receiving free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch. Fortunately, Congress passed the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Program (P-EBT) in the Families First Act. To offer P-EBT, each state must develop a plan for how it will identify eligible children and get benefits to them quickly, and USDA must approve it.

Families already getting SNAP benefits will get the P-EBT benefits automatically on their SNAP card. Families that are not on SNAP but were getting either free or reduced-price meals will also get benefits on a new card. Most states have completed their P-EBT plans.

Unfortunately, P-EBT is temporary and ends when the school year ends. We are asking Congress to extend the Pandemic EBT program throughout the summer as well, so kids can get the food they need during the summer months.

Q. You’re a new mom. Congrats! You gave birth to beautiful baby girl earlier this year. How does being a mother change or enhance your perspective on the role nutrition plays in people’s lives?

A. My daughter lost 11 percent of her birth weight during the first week of her life. Our pediatrician put us on a rigorous nursing and formula supplementation schedule so she could gain weight. I found myself so stressed that my child was not getting enough nutrition. Yet, I recognized how blessed I was to have access to health insurance and to afford formula. Counting ounces and praising God each time she gained weight was such a new experience for me.

It certainly made me feel a sense of solidarity with mothers all over the world who are desperately trying to get their children the nutrition they need.

The poorest individuals are most vulnerable to increased food insecurity during increased unemployment and a struggling economy.

Tools
from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • U.S. Hunger and Poverty State Fact Sheets

    These fact sheets provide a snapshot of hunger and poverty in the United States and in each state plus Washington, D.C. 

  • Conflict and Fragility Are Hunger Issues

     Conflict is a main driver of the recent increase in hunger around the world and of forced migration. Hunger also contributes to conflict. 

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

For Advocacy

Faith

African at Heart

November 22, 2019

Insight

From the Blog