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Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World today celebrated passage of the COVID relief package that was attached to the fiscal year 2021 omnibus appropriations bill, giving millions of American families hope this holiday season.
“Today Bread for the World is thankful Congress has passed a COVID relief bill that helps families struggling with hunger,” said Rev. Eugene Cho, president and CEO of Bread for the World. “Hunger is rising dramatically in the United States as the number of COVID infections and deaths hit record numbers daily. The relief package will help keep millions of children and families from going hungry.”
As many as 50 million people, or 1 in 6 people in the U.S., are at risk of experiencing hunger this winter. Eleven million children currently live in a household where the children themselves are not getting enough to eat. Food insecurity, both prior to and during the pandemic, disproportionally impacts people of color. According to recent Census Bureau data, 40 percent of Black and Latino families with children are struggling to put food on the table.
The relief package increases the U.S. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum monthly benefit by 15 percent for six months to help struggling families purchase food. The bill also provides $400 million for food banks through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), $175 million for nutrition services for older Americans, and through the Pandemic-EBT program, expands access to food for all children under age six who are enrolled in designated childcare programs. The package also includes another round of stimulus checks of up to $600 for individuals and expands the program to include families with a mixed immigration status. The package additionally includes $4 billion in global health funding for targeted global vaccine distribution.
While the relief package brings hope for many Americans and provides funding for global vaccinations, unfortunately, it does not include support for global pandemic hunger and malnutrition programs. The United Nations World Food Program warns extreme hunger could double, to 270 million people, by the end of 2020. And an additional 168,000 children could die globally by 2022 due to hunger and malnutrition as a direct result of to COVID. Bread is asking Congress to provide at least $20 billion to fight COVID-19 abroad, including $2 billion for hunger and food security programs and $500 million for nutrition services.
“God calls on us to help those in need. During this season, many of us are contemplating and called to emulate the light of Christ during this dark time. Right now, the world is facing the greatest crisis in our lifetime. On behalf of our network of local churches, denominations, and other faith-based and anti-hunger organizations, I urge Congress to provide immediate assistance to address this global heath and hunger crisis,” added Cho.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is designed to respond to changes in need, making it well suited to respond to crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bread for the World and its partners are asking Congress to provide $200 million for global nutrition in the fiscal year 2020 budget.
In 2017, 11.8 percent of households in the U.S.—40 million people—were food-insecure, meaning that they were unsure at some point during the year about how they would provide for their next meal.