FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2021
Contact: Hannah Packman, 303-819-8737
WASHINGTON – To address a dramatic rise in hunger, President Joe Biden today signed an executive order that would increase food assistance for families missing meals due to school closures as well as boost Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for the lowest-income households.
Throughout the pandemic, National Farmers Union (NFU) has expressed concern about elevated rates of food insecurity in both urban and rural communities; by some estimates, one in six adults and one in four children have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic – rates that are about 50 percent higher than the United States was seeing just a year ago.
Though SNAP and other food assistance programs have provided a crucial safety net for millions of Americans, it hasn’t been enough to offset the surge of job losses and resulting financial stress. Even after the most recent stimulus package boosted SNAP benefits by 15 percent, the average recipient is still approximately $100 short of covering the costs of a month of low-cost groceries.
Because the effects of hunger are immediate and long-lasting, these statistics are alarming, to say the least. As such, NFU is relieved that the Biden administration has prioritized food security in its first days, as the organization’s president Rob Larew noted in a statement:
“One of the most worrying side effects of the pandemic has been a dramatic rise in hunger. For months, National Farmers Union has been urging lawmakers to address this crisis – and we are extremely encouraged by and supportive of President Biden’s prompt action. By both increasing SNAP benefits for the lowest-income recipients as well as offering additional support to families who ordinarily depend on free school meals, this executive order will offer hungry Americans greater certainty about where their next meal will come from during these trying times.
“In doing so, it will not only improve physical health outcomes and mental wellbeing, but it will stimulate much-needed economic growth: every dollar spent on SNAP adds $1.70 to the economy, and every billion dollars spent on the program creates 13,500 new jobs. While we recover from the pandemic, this is really the kind of smart, efficient, and compassionate policy making we need.
“However, as the administration itself noted, this is only part of the solution; moving forward, we ask that legislative and executive branches expand on the order to negotiate additional aid for unemployed Americans, struggling businesses, and rural communities.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.