The COVID-19 public  health and economic crisis is bigger than any other we’ve seen in our  lifetimes — while the pandemic has forced the U.S. economy into crisis,  millions of Americans are struggling with food insecurity, unemployment,  and falling behind on housing payments. Hunger has increased throughout  the pandemic, with as many as 30 million adults and 12 million children  living in a household where they may not always get enough to eat.

Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated longstanding  disparities in food insecurity. Black and Latino adults are more than  twice as likely as white adults to report that their households did not  get enough to eat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Biden-Harris  administration are committed to ensuring that all struggling families  can get the nutritious food they need.

In good times and tough times, USDA’s nutrition assistance programs  are among the most far-reaching, powerful tools available to ensure that  all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background, have  access to healthy, affordable food. USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition  Assistance Program (SNAP) provides low-income Americans with access to  healthy groceries. Approximately 43 million Americans rely on this  program to feed themselves and their families. USDA and the Biden-Harris  administration are working to strengthen this vital program by:

  • Increasing SNAP benefits by 15%. Investments in  nutrition assistance can have a powerful stimulative impact. A recent  USDA study found that in a slow economy, one billion dollars in  additional SNAP benefits would lead to an increase of $1.54 billion in  the gross domestic product. In December, Congress provided a 15%  increase in SNAP benefits from January through June 2021, which is  providing about $28 per person per month to families in need. Of the  over $7.0 billion investment, two-thirds is going to families with  children, and nearly 40% is supporting the poorest households, with  incomes less than half of the federal poverty level. As part of the  American Rescue Plan, President Biden called on Congress to extend the  increase in SNAP benefits through September. Extending this policy will  helps thousands of people in need in each state, while providing  millions of additional dollars to buy food in local communities.Benefits by State (PDF, 469 KB)

  • Increasing access to online purchasing: Online  grocery shopping has become a vital resources of increasing food Access,  especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of the pandemic,  and in support of social distancing guidance, USDA redoubled its efforts  to expand the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot beyond the original eight  states. Currently, more than 1.5 million households in 46 states and D.C  are using their SNAP benefits to purchase groceries online through  participating retailers. Through the American Rescue Plan, the  Biden-Harris administration supports an increased investment in  technology to modernize electronic benefit transfer (EBT), support  retailers, including farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers, and  increase access to online purchasing for SNAP participants.SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot States and Retailers

  • Supporting states with additional administrative funding: Our state and local partners are on the front lines of providing  nutrition assistance to struggling families, seniors, and people with  disabilities. Throughout this pandemic, USDA has made full use of our  authorities to support governors and state agencies administering our  programs to ensure that benefits get to the kids and families that need  it most. As part of the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris  administration supports providing an increase in SNAP administrative  funds, without requiring states to match those funds, for fiscal years  2021 through 2023.

  • Reducing inequalities in SNAP emergency benefits.  Through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress authorized  emergency increases to SNAP benefits to address the increase in hunger  due to the pandemic. While this has provided about $29 billion in  additional benefits for struggling Americans since the start of the  pandemic, we are deeply concerned that approximately 20 million people  in the lowest income households – who have the least ability to absorb  the economic shocks brought about by COVID – have received no or very  little emergency benefit increases provided by Congress last spring.  About 40% of these households have children and 20% include someone who  is elderly and 15% include someone who is disabled. USDA is working with  the Department of Justice to review our legal authority to increase  SNAP emergency allotments for those who need it most.

  • Ensuring SNAP benefits support a healthy diet.  Even before COVID, millions of Americans who rely on SNAP were  struggling to buy and prepare healthy food with a benefit amount based  on an outdated Thrifty Food Plan. As we look to find ways to strengthen  our nutrition programs for the future, USDA has begun the process of  updating the Thrifty Food Plan to better reflect the true cost of a  healthy basic diet today.

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