Hauppauge, New York – June 10, 2021: – President Biden’s recently announced “American Families Plan” includes $1.8 trillion in investments and tax credits for American families and children over the next ten years. In addition to helping families to afford child-care, providing paid family and medical leave, and investing in universal pre-school, it aims to make the Pandemic-EBT program permanent and increase access to free school meals for children in high-poverty districts.
Policymakers quickly realized the challenges presented by the hunger crisis associated with COVID-19. They responded by establishing the Pandemic-EBT program. This innovative program provides grocery benefits on EBT cards to replace the school meals that children lose when school is not in session. As a result of the American Rescue Plan extending this program, States have the ability to provide approximately $375 in grocery benefits for each low-income child this summer.
This plan also expands the federal Community Eligibility Provision to make it easier for schools to offer meals at no charge to large numbers of low-income children. Most importantly, this increases access to nutrition for kids in need, but it also improves student health and academic performance while reducing paperwork for schools. Furthermore, the American Families Plan expands direct certification to facilitate the enrollment of low-income students for free or reduced-price meals regardless of where they attend school. This eliminates duplicative applications and streamlines the process for the families, schools, and governmental agencies administering these programs.
According to Michael W. Haynes, Chief Government Affairs Officer at Long Island Cares, Inc., “Food banks play a key role in supporting children and families experiencing food insecurity. COVID-19 increased demand for our services by greater than 60 percent in 2020. This is why we are calling upon the Biden administration and Congress to allocate an additional $900 million in TEFAP funding through FY 2022. We provided 6,313,913 TEFAP meals to struggling Long Islanders in 2020. Increased TEFAP support funding would help us to keep pace with sustained regional need. It is also important that food banks receive additional funding to address the costs associated with storing and distributing higher quantities of emergency food. Factors to include are staffing needs, warehouse equipment, and fuel costs.”
For every meal a food bank provides, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nine. This is why Long Island Cares supports Congress extending the 15 percent SNAP benefit boost for the duration of the economic downturn. “In addition to being morally right, it is proven that increases in SNAP funding promote local economic stimulus by infusing local grocers with cash,” said Haynes.
“In summation, we applaud the American Families Plan and its numerous provisions aiming to reduce hunger in America. This plan addresses child hunger and provides our nation’s schools with the resources it needs to fight hunger when school is in and out of session. We sincerely hope that future legislation contains provisions to support the vital work being carried out by the nation’s food banks on the front lines in the ongoing fight to end hunger,” said Paule Pachter, Long Island Cares’ Chief Executive Officer.
About Long Island Cares, Inc. Founded by the late Harry Chapin, Long Island Cares brings together all available resources for the benefit of the hungry and food insecure on Long Island and, to the best of our ability, provides for the humanitarian needs of our community. Our goals are to improve food security for families, sponsor programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency, and educate the general public about the causes and consequences of hunger on Long Island. Our vision is A Hunger Free Long Island. Long Island Cares, Inc. – The Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank has a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator as well as earning Guidstar’s Platinum Seal of Transparency.