The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective ways to combat childhood hunger in America.
For decades SNAP has successfully decreased food insecurity and lifted millions of Americans out of poverty. But there’s a hidden benefit that SNAP provides beyond helping to feed families. It also feeds our economy.
Now, as a record number of Americans are furloughed, losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut due to the coronavirus pandemic, SNAP is more important than ever. SNAP can safely and effectively help families put food on the table and stimulate our economy during this crisis. Here’s how.
SNAP feeds families
1 in 7 kids in the United States face hunger, and 20 million of those children are in families who rely on the food they get from SNAP. The program is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and provides families with an electronic benefit card they can use to buy food at grocery stores. This assistance is critical now with family budgets stretched, jobs and wages lost and millions of kids missing school meals.
While meal distribution sites can still help connect kids to the nutrition they need while their schools are closed, many are having to shut down because staff are testing positive for COVID-19. And while meal sites are really important, not everyone can easily and safely access them. In those cases, SNAP is critical to ensuring children and families have another option to safely access food during these uncertain times.
But the benefits of SNAP don’t stop there. It’s a proven stimulus to our nation’s economy
SNAP benefits are one of the fastest and most effective forms of economic stimulus. That means the program not only helps feed people, but also our economy.
How does it do that? Money spent at local grocery stores and markets leads to more jobs, wages and local economic activity in the community. In fact, every SNAP dollar that households redeem expands the economy by about $1.50. The foods purchased also put money directly in the pockets of farmers and distributors, who in turn can then afford goods, services and food for themselves.
And, since SNAP benefits can only be used to buy food, it frees up money in family budgets to purchase other essential items, like diapers, medicine, or bigger shoes for growing kids.
The best part is that this all happens almost immediately. The vast majority of families spend their benefits before the month ends. Other stimulus programs put dollars in pockets, which people may save or hold onto for later instead of using and stimulating the economy right now.
We can use SNAP to fight the coronavirus crisis
It’s more important than ever to strengthen the SNAP program and we’re urging Congress to do this in the next coronavirus stimulus package. By increasing household SNAP benefits by at least 15% and raising the minimum benefit from $16 to $30, we can ensure people in need have the resources to weather this crisis and our economy is getting the support it needs to rebound from it.
Contact your Members of Congress and tell them strengthening SNAP is the most effective way to help struggling families during this crisis.