PINGREE: COVID Relief Bill’s Increased Food Assistance & SNAP Benefits Will Help Families Survive into 2021
Washington, December 21, 2020
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today released the following statement on the food and agriculture provisions included in Congress’ newest coronavirus relief package, which was passed by the House:
“Hunger has become an increasingly visible crisis as we’ve witnessed lengthening lines at food pantries around the country. Nearly 1 in 4 households nationwide have experienced food insecurity this year, due in large part to the COVID 19 pandemic. Since the earliest days of this crisis, I pushed for Congress and USDA to take meaningful action to protect families from hunger. While the best course of action would have been to provide robust direct support at the outset, I’m proud the legislation passed today includes a meaningful increase in SNAP, which is both an extremely effective anti-hunger program and a critical tool for economic stimulus. No one should ever go hungry, especially during a global public health crisis.”
The coronavirus relief package passed today includes a 15 percent increase in maximum SNAP benefits until June 30, 2021, assistance to food banks, simplification of P-EBT, and a provision to make it easier for households to qualify for SNAP by excluding pandemic unemployment benefits from counting as income.
Pingree, an organic farmer whose work has centered around food system reform, has led her House colleagues in championing increased SNAP benefits and broad support for small, local farmers. She and several other House members introduced the Ensuring Emergency Food Security Act on March 11. Pingree wrote to Speaker Pelosi on March 16, detailing the impact of COVID-19 on local and regional markets for farmers and urging the Speaker to provide emergency disaster payments to farmers selling fresh, local, and minimally processed foods in community markets. She led a letter in May pushing for direct assistance to small farmers and changes to SNAP to ensure beneficiaries have access to locally grown food, and has supported expanding SNAP eligibility and increased minimum monthly benefits.
Pingree also voted for both iterations of the Heroes Act, which included a second round of stimulus checks, a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits, and excluded additional unemployment compensation in benefit calculation.