By Cindy Long
Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact everyone, many Americans grapple with food insecurity. This past year, in fact, over 29 million adults and 12 million children struggled to afford food, while more than 1 in 5 Black and Latino adults and children reported food insecurity.
In swift response, the Biden-Harris Administration deployed emergency resources approved by Congress through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. At the same time, USDA continues to provide millions of Americans with access to healthy food thanks to the $12 billion investment Congress provided through the American Rescue Plan. Through these resources, we've been able to increase SNAP benefits and close meal gaps for children.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program also helped expand benefits and nutrition assistance for families affected by the crisis. P-EBT provides strapped families with food dollars equivalent to the value of meals missed from pandemic-related school and childcare closures. USDA also bumped P-EBT benefits by 15% per day to address child food insecurity and this summer provided funding for meals to many students when schools closed.
In West Virginia, a farm to P-EBT program enables participating families to double or triple their benefits when shopping at farmers markets, roadside stands, mobile markets, and select stores. Participants receive a one-to-one match when purchasing SNAP-qualifying items using P-EBT and can receive a one-to-two match if they bring their children when purchasing food.
Thanks to P-EBT, pandemic-strained Americans have one less thing to worry about when putting meals on their table. The continuation of P-EBT in 2021 provided food security to millions of Americans and today, FNS is working with states to continue the effort through 2022.