Food banks from coast to coast have written to CAMI stressing the need for common-sense flexibility for states to administer their food stamp programs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic: KAC (Wisconsin), Sister Carmen Community Center (Colorado), New York Common Pantry (New York), Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (Washington, D.C.), Foodbank of Santa Barbara County (California), Atlanta Community Food Bank (Georgia), Candlelighters of El Paso (Texas), Liberty’s Promise (Virginia), Crossroads Community Services (Texas), Gospel Rescue Mission (Oklahoma), Spectrum Youth and Family Services (Vermont), Lakeview Pantry (Illinois), Food Lifeline (Washington), Gold Harvest Food Bank (Georgia), The Gathering of Southeast WI (Wisconsin), Meet Each Need with Dignity (California), Beyond Hunger (Illinois), So Others Might Eat (Washington, D.C.).
CAMI has repeatedly called for common sense reforms to public assistance programs to ensure Americans who are struggling as a result of the economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic can receive necessary help in their time of need. This has included a persistent call for Congress to take action to give states flexibility in administering the food stamp, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to better address an increased need that is projected to only increase in the winter months as the pandemic worsens and businesses close.
SNAP benefits are the key to addressing food insecurity during the pandemic and at all times. Food insecurity is a significant issue for millions of Americans right now, with 26 million reporting that they did not have enough food in the past week (according to a November 25 Washington Post report).
Currently only a few food banks in four states are permitted by the federal government, under demonstration authority, to assist our clients with the SNAP application and interview. Food banks are ready and willing to assist in doing more, including certifying households for SNAP assistance.
The food banks noted above have spoken out in support of CAMI’s efforts to remove the barriers that prohibit state and county SNAP programs from using food banks and other private entities from assisting in certifying needy families for SNAP benefits. These organizations are on the frontlines, helping millions of families across the country as we work to handle an unprecedented situation and rise in food stamp applications.
It’s long past time for Congress to take action to remove barriers that make it harder for states to turn to private sector partners to help manage the increased demand for SNAP benefits – partners that are ready, willing and more than capable of offering a helping hand during these trying times.