A voice at the table
Last week something phenomenal happened: President Biden announced a 25% increase in SNAP benefits – the largest permanent increase in the program’s history. The announcement comes just before temporary pandemic benefits are set to expire. Moving forward the average SNAP benefit will increase the pre-pandemic allotment by $36 per person each month.
Anti-hunger advocates are referring to this as a game-changing moment. We’ve advocated for decades to bring about this critical revision in what’s called the “Thrifty Food Plan”—how much the federal government assumes it costs to feed a family. Beyond Hunger was a voice at the table for this historic change.
This spring, the USDA invited food pantry participants from organizations across the country--including ours--to participate in round table discussions about their personal experience with hunger and how SNAP benefits may or may not have helped. With that front line feedback in hand, the USDA finally adjusted their 1960’s era Thrifty Food Plan estimate.
And not a moment too soon. To say we have been concerned about the end of temporary pandemic aid is an understatement. The temporary increases meant every SNAP-eligible household received the maximum benefit--but everyone knew that wouldn’t last. As predicted, we’ve already begun to see increases in food pantry use in the past few weeks. People are worried about the end of extra unemployment and the eviction moratorium set to sunset this month. The USDA announcement means families can feel a little less anxiety for what is to come.
Though the pandemic has thrown us all curveballs, with your help we’ve kept slugging—loading carts with nutritious food, yes—but also advocating for fair play. Members of our Client Advisory Council (CAC) have spoken to national leaders about their experiences. With your support, we have compensated CAC members for time and travel, ensuring them a literal place at the table where their perspectives were desperately needed.
Thank you for your partnership in affecting change.
Michele Zurakowski, PhD
Chief Executive Officer