The COVID-19 public health crisis continues to ravage our communities, particularly our most vulnerable neighbors. As a result of the pandemic and its economic consequences, we are experiencing an unprecedented hunger crisis: a 17.4% unemployment rate, an increase of food insecurity by 53%, and 1 in 7 families at risk of hunger.
We need Congress to act quickly to mitigate this crisis and provide vital assistance, including extending unemployment benefits and strengthening nutrition programs. Please join us and advocates across the country in asking Congress to #BoostSNAPNow.
Federal Response to COVID-19
GBFB and our partners are distributing historic levels of food across the Commonwealth, but we need a comprehensive congressional response as well. While more than six million Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the first three months of the pandemic, when the $600 pandemic unemployment assistance expired at the end of July, the hunger crisis we are experiencing deepened and the emergency food assistance system saw a surge of people in need.
We need Congress to prioritize and strengthen federal nutrition programs in the next COVID-19 relief package.
Call to Action
Now more than ever, we need to celebrate our wins. It’s important to highlight the successes we’ve built together as we look ahead to the work that remains. Below are just a few examples of our recent collective successes.
Breakfast After the Bell is Law
After a three-year campaign, we’ve finally achieved our goal: all students in Massachusetts will have access to Breakfast After the Bell! The Commonwealth is now the 13th state in the nation to enact Breakfast After the Bell, a proven method for increasing access to school breakfast and alleviating childhood hunger.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that expanding the window for school breakfast would increase access and decrease food insecurity for approximately 150,000 children across the Commonwealth. With an estimated 81% increase in food insecurity among children due to COVID-19, more children are likely to qualify for the school breakfast program and will benefit from this bill.
A heartfelt thank you to all the members of the Rise and Shine Massachusetts coalition and all those who supported our campaign. Due to our efforts, thousands of kids across the state will start their school days fed and ready to learn.
COVID-19 Response Supplemental Funding
The state authorized a supplemental budget to address immediate needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout. This funding included $9 million for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), providing vital financial support to food banks on the front lines of the hunger crisis.
This funding is a major victory for anti-hunger advocates and those we serve. We are deeply thankful to the Legislature and the Governor for prioritizing food assistance during this crisis.
State Passes 3-Month Budget
The Legislature passed a three-month budget, covering the Commonwealth’s costs from August 1 through October 31. This interim budget maintains funding for most state services and programs, including MEFAP. With all the uncertainty around COVID-19, our national recovery, and the state’s revenue forecast, this interim budget will provide short-term stability while state officials gather more information to inform the full FY21 budget.
When the time comes to fund the state budget for the remainder of FY21, we will need your voices and advocacy to ensure that food assistance remains at the forefront of the discussion and the solution.
If you have any questions, please reach out to our Government Relations Team (Catherine Drennan & Dan McCarthy) at email@example.com.