WASHINGTON, D.C. (WETM) -Democrats have just introduced the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021, in an effort to benefit vulnerable community members that are struggling with food insecurity. The bill aims to expand and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as the food stamp program.
The rising cost of food in America outpaces SNAP benefits each year, forcing families to choose between putting food on the table and covering other essential expenses. The Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021 proposes to help address these issues by raising the baseline benefit for all SNAP households, allocating more funds to those with large medical and housing expenses, and increasing access to the program.
“The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger but its impact has been undermined by its insufficient benefit amounts.” said Luis Guardia, President of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).
Before the pandemic, 35 million Americans experienced food insecurity. Today, that number has raised by 7 million.
“The United States was already facing a severe food crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We live in the richest nation in the world and yet, 42 million Americans are struggling with food insecurity. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Among the 42 million, it is estimated that 13 million of those are children. Congresswoman Alma Adams hopes this bill will be one step closer to ending hunger in the United States.
“Over 40 million Americans depend on SNAP for their meals, even though SNAP benefits are not generous enough to feed a family or prevent child hunger,” said Congresswoman Adams.
Currently, SNAP provides for food banks across the country, like non-profit organization, Feeding America. According to Vince Hall, Interim Chief Government Relations Officer, SNAP provides an additional nine meals for every one meal provided by the Feeding America Network.
“This bill will strengthen SNAP’s ability to help families in need put healthy food on the table,” said Hall.
Despite the ongoing success of the SNAP program, roughly half of all households receiving SNAP benefits are still food insecure.
If implemented, the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021 would:
- Increase the minimum SNAP benefit from $16 per month pre-pandemic to $27 per month for a single or two-person household.
- Increase SNAP benefits by approximately $80 per month for a single-parent household with one child.
- Provide $150 more per month in SNAP benefits for the average family of four.