Massachusetts' current anti-hunger plan and budget to address COVID-19 hunger crisis is missing two critical pieces — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs administered by school meal sites.
As the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic began to seriously challenge people’s ability to afford enough to eat across the Commonwealth, Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Command Center called upon Project Bread and our fellow anti-hunger leaders to serve on the Food Security Task Force and advise on the state’s crisis response.
On May 17, 2020, Governor Baker released the plan to address the hunger crisis, which included a recommended $56 million investment. The plan released included no acknowledgement or investment in federal nutrition programs, which are proven to be the most effective strategies we have to mitigate the impacts of food insecurity. Two specific programs require immediate state investments - the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs administered by school meal sites.
Prior to the pandemic, food insecurity impacted 9% of our neighbors, or 1 in 11 households. As it stands now, 38% of households in Massachusetts are experiencing food insecurity, a staggering 300% increase due to this global economic and health crisis.
Food is our most basic human need. To meet the unprecedented demand occasioned by this crisis, we need solutions that are sustainable, reliable, and can solve for the enormous scale of the problem. What people need is purchasing power to buy their own food. Only federal nutrition programs can effectively and sustainably scale to meet needs of this size.
According to Feeding America, for every 1 meal their emergency food system provides, SNAP provides 9. The emergency and charity food system’s role should be to support and supplement the food needs of households, not to attempt to solve it.
The current food plan and budget is missing two critical pieces to effectively and sustainably address the crisis— 1) state investments to increase awareness and enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and 2) child nutrition programs administered by school meal sites.
In response, Project Bread has submitted a letter, co-signed by several organizations that also served on the Food Security Task Force, urging Legislators to include funding in the Supplemental Budget to better leverage two federal nutrition programs in our state which are able to scale up quickly to meet the immediate, growing need for food assistance – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition programs administered by school meal sites. These programs will ease lines at food pantries and boost the local economy.
The organizations on this letter have been working collaboratively on anti-hunger solutions for many years and are united in our recommendation for the state budget to also focus on access to federal nutrition programs. We are grateful for the Legislature’s partnership and support, and implore them to include these critical funding requests that are needed now more than ever.
This crisis demands urgent action.
Author(s): Project Bread