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The Justice Collaborative Institute today released a new report that underscores the critical need to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to combat food insecurity during the coronavirus crisis. The report, authored by Andrea Freeman, an associate professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, proposes that expanding SNAP and the ways that recipients can use SAP benefits will help prevent families from going hungry at a time when one in five households with young children did not have enough food for their kids.
The report also highlights polling from Data for Progress, which found that 65% of all respondents—including 65% of people who identify as Republican—support increased federal funding for SNAP as a response to COVID-19. Only 7% of those polled strongly oppose such an increase. Additionally, 60% of all respondents—including 60% of people who identify as Republicans—support relaxing SNAP’s work requirements. Only 6% of respondents strongly oppose such a step.
“Too many Americans went hungry before the pandemic and millions more are hungry now,” said Freeman. “Congress needs to expand the scope and budget of the SNAP program to ensure that food insecurity is not the next wave of devastation.”
One of the Trump Administration’s previous solutions was to allot more funding to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to buy food from farmers to give to food banks, but this measure has proven inefficient to getting families fed. Waiting in miles-long lines at inconvenient pick up locations, often to receive low-quality, unhealthy food is not a sustainable solution. A more generous and flexible food assistance program can help to solve the crisis.
Democrats reintroduced legislation in April that would expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as “food stamps,” to stave off the hunger awaiting many families. Unlike food banks, SNAP uses existing infrastructures to get food to people quickly and effectively. Expanding the SNAP benefits by just 15 percent is not enough. We must invest more in SNAP, anti-hunger program that has a long recorde of su, as detailed in Freeman’s report. Put simply, SNAP works and that’s where the government should be directing its dollars to mitigate this food insecurity crises.
The full report available here.
The Justice Collaborative Institute is a coalition of justice reform scholars from across the nation focused on providing an academic perspective to conversations and work surrounding mass incarceration and related issues.