Dear Colleague to All Members on Fighting Hunger During the Coronavirus
The Heroes Act addresses hunger in America, which has always been a challenge to the conscience of our country. The coronavirus has made this challenge worse, as millions of families struggle to put food on the table due to this unprecedented threat to their lives and livelihoods. Surveys show that 1 in 5 mothers of children under 12 say that their children are not getting enough food during the coronavirus crisis – three times the rate during the depths of the Great Recession.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps) has been a cornerstone in the fight against hunger and a pathway out of poverty for decades. Now, it is an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus.
SNAP benefits are a lifeline for both rural and urban families, helping them both buy food and meet daily needs such as rent, food, and transportation. This investment in food security is also one of the fastest, most effective forms of economic stimulus: according to the USDA, every dollar of SNAP increases GDP by about $1.50 during a weak economy. Further, SNAP supports local, good-paying American jobs; specifically, USDA estimates that every $1 billion invested in SNAP supports 13,600 jobs.
State and local leaders across the nation, Democrat and Republican, recognize the importance of SNAP, particularly during the coronavirus crisis. As dozens of Mayors recently wrote to Congress, “America’s cities are on the front line of responding to unprecedented disruption to local economies triggered by COVID-19. As mayors, we need every option available to fight hunger and stimulate the economy in our cities. SNAP is a proven solution to both challenges… Given the extraordinary increase in need during this public health crisis, we urge you to temporarily expand SNAP.”
Democratic Members, standing with state and local leaders, were clear about the need for assistance for hungry families as we developed, drafted and debated The Heroes Act. This legislation addresses hunger, including by:
- Increasing the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent;
- Nearly doubling the minimum SNAP benefit to $30 per month;
- Securing $3 billion for school children who do not have access to food due to COVID-19 school closures, building on the $8.8 billion secured in the CARES Act, and extending those benefits through the summer;
- Providing $1.1 billion for low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children to access nutritious foods through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program, following the $500 million secured in the CARES Act;
- Adding $150 million in food banks, for a total of $1 billion provided by Congress, to help local food banks meet the dramatically increased demand for food during this public health emergency;
- Bolstering additional nutrition initiatives, including for seniors struggling with hunger and states facing increasing demand for SNAP benefits.
Millions of hungry families, along with children, students, individuals with disabilities, veterans, unemployed Americans and seniors, rely on this lifeline. Millions more may turn to SNAP in the weeks and months to come. We cannot abandon them in their time of need.
Please make your U.S. Senators aware of the major investment that The Heroes Act makes in addressing food insecurity and your support for hungry families during this devastating time.