“This is a real increase in people’s benefits that’s going to make it a little easier to keep food on the table,” said Lindsay Nako, director of litigation and training at the Impact Fund, which represented the California plaintiffs alongside the Western Center on Law & Poverty.”
“During the hearing on the motion Wednesday, Alexander Baughan Prieto of the Western Center on Law & Poverty argued on behalf of the proposed class that the agency’s limits are illogical and that they’re harming families most in need during this crisis.
He said Congress understood that some families were already receiving their maximum monthly allotment when lawmakers enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Prieto said Congress also understood that food prices would rise and that there would be challenges to obtaining food during the pandemic.”
“The idea that people who were already struggling to get by before the crisis should not receive the additional help being granted to other SNAP recipients is cruel and absurd,” said Alexander Prieto of the Western Center on Law & Poverty, an attorney in the case.”
This evening, the President signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will greatly increase food security during the uncertain times presented by COVID-19 and the subsequent shelter in place protections taking hold across the country. The Senate passed the bill earlier today. The new law will provide flexibility for SNAP food stamp benefits (known as CalFresh in California) and additional anti-hunger resources like Pandemic EBT, which will prevent hunger among children during school closures.
The law also funds additional unemployment insurance opportunities, paid sick leave, and free COVID-19 testing. We look forward to working with the Department of Social Services and County Human Services Agencies to implement the new law in California.
Specifically, the law will help Californians with low-incomes in the following ways:
- Provides $500 in additional WIC funds and provides broad authority to USDA to grant waivers of regulatory requirements through September 30th to ensure we are able to meet the specific nutrition needs of pregnant women, new moms, and young children as WIC adopts new practices to remotely serve participant needs.
- Provides $400M to support increased distribution of food at food banks. California’s food bank lines have doubled in the past week due to intense community need, these are vital funds for food security.
- Establishes Pandemic EBT, which enables the state to help reduce hunger as schools close and more counties go to shelter in place. Pandemic EBT offers the quickest and easiest way to get food into the hands of those that who need it most: (1) By providing additional SNAP dollars to current SNAP recipients; and (2) By providing funds to children eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch whose families may not be currently receiving SNAP.
- Gives USDA authority to issue waivers to allow non-congregate meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
- Focuses strategies and additional financial resources on older adult nutrition, since older adults are one of the populations most vulnerable to COVID-19. With Governor Newsom announcing that everyone over 65 should stay home, and an increasing number of counties implementing shelter in place, it’s essential that we target services to keep this population nourished.
This is a tremendous first step in addressing the needs of people living in the United States at this time. We are hopeful that Congress and the President will continue the hard work needed to protect everyone – particularly those most vulnerable to the economic implications brought on by the pandemic. We look forward to seeing an economic stimulus package that works not just to help the economy, but most importantly, to provide relief to families and individuals across the country.