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Congress Passes COVID-19 Relief Package, More to Come

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) is carefully monitoring developments regarding the global spread of COVID-19, and we are partnering with our federal, state, and local government officials and institutions to support our neighbors in need through this crisis.

US Capital

Congress has responded quickly, passing several bipartisan relief packages to blunt the impact of COVID-19. Congress’ third COVID-19 response package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, (CARES Act), is a $2 trillion bipartisan economic stimulus package, which was signed into law by the President on March 27.

Read a full summary of the CARES Act by NPR here.

Unfortunately, the CARES Act does not do nearly enough to relieve rising hunger brought on by this pandemic. The Recovery Rebates and extended unemployment benefits will go almost entirely to pay rent, health care, and utilities, leaving little to put food on the table.

Although we are only a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, we have already seen an increased need for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – the largest and most effective anti-hunger program in the country.

As a SNAP outreach provider registered with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, GBFB staff provide eligibility screenings, application assistance, follow-up support, and advocacy to people who want to access SNAP benefits.

GBFB’s SNAP outreach team submitted over 500 applications in 2019, and more than one-third were for older adults (60+). From this time last year, our weekly SNAP referrals, conversations with clients, and applications have more than doubled.

To help people understand the CARES Act impact on SNAP benefits, GBFB partnered with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Project Bread, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and Worcester County Food Bank on the development of this flier.

As Congress begins to work on a fourth COVID-19 relief package, GBFB is calling on our delegation to include much needed improvements to SNAP that were left out of the CARES Act:

  • Increase the maximum benefit by 15%
  • Increase the minimum benefit
  • Prevent implementation of rules that lower benefits for eliminate eligibility

 

Call to Action 

Call Senators Markey and Warren and your Representative to encourage them to expand SNAP in the next COVID-19 relief bill, in particular the improvements noted above.

 

These changes will provide relief to the most vulnerable households on SNAP who were already struggling the hardest with hunger before this crisis – seniors, people with disabilities, and working families with children.

SNAP is uniquely positioned to help us through both the economic and public health crises brought on by this pandemic. It helps struggling households buy food to keep them healthy while generating economic activity in our local economies.

GBFB will continue to use its unique voice to support our neighbors in need, and we hope you join us. We call on Congress to invest in the health, well-being, and food security of our communities. We’re in this fight together. Our collective health and wellbeing takes our collective action.

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