Recently, President Biden announced critical investments included in his American Families Plan that would address child food insecurity and benefit families in high poverty areas across our state. The plan would extend recent improvements to the Child Tax Credit for lower-income families which some estimates say could help curb child poverty by as much as 50 percent. It would also make the Summer EBT program permanent and increase access to free school meals for children in high-poverty school districts nationwide. The package also ends a policy that banned formerly incarcerated people from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
“The provisions in the American Families Plan are critical steps forward for Virginians affected by food insecurity, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing economic downturn continue,” said Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank President & CEO Dan Maher. “This funding is designed to address the gaps in assistance many children and families experience when school is out of session or when districts don’t have the resources to meet local needs. We also support the provision to remove barriers to food assistance for people who were formerly incarcerated as the humane response to human need.”
More Support Needed to Meet the Staggering Need Across Virginia
While the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank appreciates the prioritization of these programs and policies, the current need is staggering and is expected to continue throughout this economic downturn. Virginia has seen an increase in the need for food support of 73% percent during this past year. To feed so many people experiencing hunger for the duration of the pandemic and economic recovery, the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank needs both additional food and funding.
“To be able to continue to meet demand in the midst of this pandemic and economic downturn, more support is needed to provide people with access to food and to make sure food banks are able to meet the needs of our local communities,” Maher added. “Boosting SNAP benefits, filling the gap in funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and helping food banks like ours increase storage capacity are all additional priorities we have presented to lawmakers for consideration. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration and Congress, including our home state members, to ensure that Virginia families, especially local families we are responsible for helping serve, are able to have adequate food access during this crisis and beyond.”
Specifically, the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank asks the Biden administration, our U.S. Representatives, and U.S. Senators to advocate for the inclusion of the following priorities:
SNAP Benefits - extend a benefit boost of at least 15 percent to all recipients for the duration of the economic downturn and beyond to provide critical food assistance and to help promote economic stimulus. For every meal provided by food banks, SNAP provides nine. It is a highly effective program that efficiently helps meet the increased need for food assistance.
USDA Food purchasing capacity support - It sounds simple, but food banks must have enough food to feed those in line. Last year, food banks relied on TEFAP to provide 2.4 billion meals. To continue to ensure food banks can continue to meet unprecedented demand, TEFAP is in need of $900 million of additional funding through the end of FY 2022.
Increase storage capacity - There is currently a shortfall within the national food bank network of cold storage and distribution capacity. Congress is in a position to address this funding shortfall as part of the American Families Plan.