As the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, families across the Desert Region continue to struggle with food insecurity. At the height of the crisis, FIND Food Bank provided 22 million meals to families and individuals facing food insecurity last year, and the need for food assistance is still substantial.
While food banks across the country and our partners have answered the call during this pandemic, federal nutrition programs are the first line of defense in the fight to end hunger. The American Rescue Plan Act invests in supporting our hardest-hit neighbors by facilitating easier access to fresh, nutritious food as our county recovers from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
American Rescue Plan Act will help families pay for groceries by giving a 15 percent boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as food stamps – through September 30, 2021. The plan also provides administrative funding for states as well as funding for technological investments to expand online SNAP benefit usage. SNAP is our country’s most effective anti-hunger program, and it offers a scalable solution for families: for every meal provided by the emergency food system in California, SNAP provides 12.
The plan also includes investments to expand produce access and make technological investments for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as well as an extension of the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program through the duration of the pandemic. The P-EBT program has been a crucial resource during COVID-19 for children being able to access nutritious food. These investments included in the bill, along with the $37 million in additional funding for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), are significant as we work to address hunger among our most vulnerable neighbors.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) $3.6 billion to purchase food and distribute it through nonprofits nation-wide including organizations like ours.
While we are encouraged by the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act and its investment in federal nutrition programs, there is more work to be done to ensure that our economic recovery is equitable and responsive to families most in need. We know from experience that it takes years to make a full economic recovery.
As our nation moves forward, we remain steadfast in the fight against hunger and stand with our community and our legislative leaders to fight for investments that serve those in need.
If you are in need of food assistance, contact FIND Food Bank’s CalFresh Outreach & Case Management Program. FIND’s team can help connect people and families who are food-insecure to additional resources for their household. Call us at 760-775-3663 to see if you qualify for any of these programs including SNAP and WIC, and we will walk you through the application process.