In our role as the regional food bank for Long Island, we at Long Island Cares, Inc. have witnessed the number of food insecure residents here rise from 259,000 in February 2020 to greater than 480,000 today. In just under a year, hunger has basically doubled on Long Island.
As a nation, we place great significance in the first 100 days of a presidential term. Even before taking office, President Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” advocated for Congress to extend the 15 percent SNAP benefit increase; invest an additional $3 billion in funding for WIC; and identify creative ways to incentivize struggling restaurants to feed families in need.
On January 22nd, President Biden announced an Executive Order to immediately bolster Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This executive order immediately boosted P-EBT by 15 percent. This program provides families with money to replace the breakfasts and lunches children lost due to school/childcare closures.
It strengthened SNAP by permitting USDA to allow states to increase SNAP benefits delivered through emergency allotments. This is imperative because even though the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act afforded states the flexibility to issue additional emergency SNAP benefits, the way the law was interpreted excluded nearly 40 percent of SNAP households with the lowest incomes. Lastly, this executive order also calls upon USDA to begin revising the Thrifty Food Plan, which advocates frequently criticize for severely misjudging the costs of healthy food and the economic realities low-income Americans face each day.
As a result of the heightened demand associated with COVID-19, Long Island Cares increased distribution by greater than 70 percent in 2020. We remain committed to doing whatever we can to help any Long Islander who does not know where his or her next meal is coming from. Just as we are here for Long Island’s hungry, on just his second full day in office, President Biden, established that he is here for America’s hungry. We applaud the Administration’s quick and decisive action to curb the surge in hunger associated with COVID-19 and look forward to hopefully engaging with members of President Biden’s staff on the creation of a Presidential Commission to Address Food Insecurity in the near future.
Michael W. Haynes, Chief Government Affairs Officer
Long Island Cares, Inc.-The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank
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